• Ninety speakers took the podium and spoke for roughly 45 seconds each
  • Testimonials included experiences from those who had abortions themselves
  • An amendment Wednesday allowed certain exceptions to the abortion ban

Charleston, West Virginia -- A 12-year-old girl stood up and gave emotional remarks about West Virginia’s restrictive abortion bill during a public hearing Wednesday.

Addison Gardner was the youngest among the ninety people who took to the podium and spoke for about 45 seconds each, at the public hearing as lawmakers debated House Bill 302, which would ban abortions in almost all cases with certain exceptions.

“I play for varsity volleyball and I run track. My education is very important to me, and I plan on doing great things in life,” said Gardner, a student from Buffalo Middle School, according to the Herald-Dispatch.

“If a man decides that I’m an object, and does unspeakable, tragic things to me, am I, a child, supposed to carry and birth another child?” she went on to say.

“Am I to put my body through the physical trauma of pregnancy? Am I to suffer the mental implications, a child who had no say in what was being done with my body?” she continued. “Some here say they are pro-life. What about my life? Does my life not matter to you?”

Another speaker, Ash Orr, a transgender Appalachian organizer recalled being raped at the ages of 9 and 10 while speaking on the house floor, according to HuffPost.

“I want you to explain to me why it would have been OK for me as a child to have carried my rapist’s child,” they said. “Explain it to me like I’m one of the children that y’all are willing to traumatize.”

Orr later told HuffPost that speaking in front of lawmakers “was an act of resistance and empowerment for me, personally.”

“As I stated on the House floor, I have watched these legislators strip away my rights as a trans person and as a person with a uterus,” they told the outlet. “I wanted them to understand that [they] are not pro-life, they are forced birth and pro-control. They are on the side of rapists and I wanted them to sit with that.”

Several speakers spoke against the bill and described it as “disgusting,” “cowardice,” “delusional” and “inhumane.” Others spoke in favor of the bill.

Testimonials from those who have had abortions in the past were also heard.

Wednesday’s hearing came to an end with House Bill 302 passed by a 69-23 vote, with eight members absent. While abortion is illegal in most situations, an amendment Wednesday was added to allow limited exceptions for victims of rape and incest.

Abortion should never be used as a form of birth control, that’s just wrong. I’m 100% against it but I do believe in the life of the mother exception, the rape and incest exception,” said Del. Doug Smith, a Mercer County Republican who noted that he was satisfied with the passing of the bill and voted for the new amendment, according to WSAZ.

Activists protest in New York in June 2022 against the US Supreme Court ruling that rolled back nationwide abortion rights
Activists protest in New York in June 2022 against the US Supreme Court ruling that rolled back nationwide abortion rights AFP / Yuki IWAMURA