A young abortion-rights activist body-shamed by Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz is now thanking him publicly for helping her raise more than $1 million for her cause.
Olivia Julianna, 19, started a campaign with her group, Gen-Z for Change, to raise funds for abortion rights after the Florida Republican said in a speech on the weekend that the women fighting for abortion access are usually “350 pounds” and the ones “nobody wants to impregnate.”
“A sitting Republican congressman, Matt Gaetz, decided that body-shaming a teenager was okay,” Julianna tweeted. “So to spite him, I raised $1 million in donations to abortion funds in under 72 hours.”
For three days, donations have been pouring in, and Julianna has repeatedly thanked Gaetz, 40, for handing her a national platform—all while slamming Gaetz, who’s under investigation over allegations that he may have had sex with a minor and possibly violated federal sex-trafficking laws. Gaetz has vehemently denied ever having sex with minors and said the allegations amount to “extortion.”
It all started with Gaetz’s speech at the Turning Point USA Student Action summit. TPUSA is a conservative nonprofit geared towards youth.
“Have you watched these pro-abortion, pro-murder rallies? The people are just disgusting,” Gaetz said. “Nobody wants to impregnate you if you look like a thumb.”
Julianna then tweeted, “It’s 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.”
Gaetz then tweeted a photo singling out Julianna with the caption “dander raised…”
In a statement, Julianna said by posting the picture, Gaetz was “alluding to the fact that I fit the deeply misogynistic description he gave.” She said she’s since received an onslaught of hate and misogyny from his followers.
In a statement to VICE News, Gaetz spokesperson Joel Valdez said, “Congressman Gaetz never mentioned the adult’s weight. You and other Leftist media did.”
The interaction inspired Julianna to raise money for abortion funds across the country, and she’s thanked Gaetz for handing her a “national spotlight on a silver platter” that’s helped her advocacy group earn $1.4 million and climbing.
“$1 million raised for abortion funds in less than 72 hours. #ThankMattGaetz,” Julianna tweeted, alongside a picture of Gaetz that says, “How’s that for dander raised? Get rekt.”
Valdez told VICE News that “with Roe v. Wade overturned, America is now a pro-life nation. No amount of solicitations will change that.”
Julianna released another official statement on Thursday saying that the funds will help pregnant people get abortions. She called Gaetz’s comments about her “reprehensible, disgusting, and outright despicable.”
“But I am glad he directed his bigotry in my direction. We have now turned hatred into healthcare, and people across the country will be able to get access to abortion services because of it,” Julianna said.
The money raised will go to 50 funds across states that implemented abortion bans after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.
Follow Anya Zoledziowski on Twitter.