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Update: Matt Gaetz Tried To Body-Shame a Teen Activist & She Turned It Into a $1.5 Million Fundraiser for Abortion Access

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) listens during a committee hearing

Update 7/29: At the time of original publication, the fundraiser had brought in $300,000. It currently sits at a mind-boggling $1.5 million. That number shows no signs of slowing down so we’ll continue to update.

Matt Gaetz’s decision to try to bully a young activist online has been channeled into a fundraiser, raising over $300,000 for abortion rights funds.

Speaking to a group of students at a right-wing event in Tampa, Florida this weekend, Matt Gaetz took some time to mock abortion rights activists, whom he called “just disgusting.”

“Why is it is that the women with the least likelihood of getting pregnant are the ones most worried about having abortions?” he said. “Nobody wants to impregnate you if you look like a thumb. These people are odious on the inside and out. They’re like 5’2”, 350 pounds, and they’re like, ‘Give me my abortion or I’ll get up and march and protest.’ I’m thinking, march? You look like you got ankles weaker than the legal reasoning behind Roe v. Wade. A few of ‘em need to get up and march. They need to get up and march for like an hour a day, swing those arms, get the blood pumping, maybe mix in a salad.”

Gaetz has made comments like these before. In May, he tweeted, “How many of the women rallying against overturning Roe are over-educated, under-loved millennials who sadly return from protests to a lonely microwave dinner with their cats, and no bumble matches?”

Then, as now, the reaction to his foul comments was overwhelming disgust. One of the many people who called Gaetz out for his recent gross remarks was 19-year-old Texas activist Olivia Julianna, who tweeted, “Its come to my attention that Matt Gaetz — alleged pedophile— has said that it’s always the ‘odious.. 5’2 350 pound’ women that ‘nobody wants to impregnate’ who rally for abortion. I’m actually 5’11. 6’4 in heels. I wear them so the small men like you are reminded of your place.”

A more normal (though still bullying) response would have been to quote-tweet her, rather than just post her picture without context, but he couldn’t exactly do that, could he?

In response to Gaetz’s attack on her, Julianna launched a fundraising campaign with Gen-Z for Change to support abortion funds. “In honor of Matt Gaetz publicly body shaming me, I’ll be fundraising for the @genzforchange abortion fund,” she wrote, adding, “Last time I received hate we raised a few thousand dollars. Let’s see if we can do that again!”

In about 72 hours, she’s raised more than $1.5 million for abortion funds and the amount is still rising fast.

In a “special thank you card” Julianna made for Gaetz and posted online, she writes, “Dear Matt, Although your intentions were hateful, your public shaming of my appearance has done nothing but benefit me.” In addition to all the money raised for abortion funds, Julianna says she’s also gained a huge number of followers across her social media platforms from documenting this journey. “Your hateful comments towards me will quite literally help pay for abortion.”

Matt Gaetz obviously only says odious things like these to stir up outrage and get attention. Well, it worked; he got it. Good job, Matt.

(image: Drew Angerer/GettyImages)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.