12-year-old rape survivor shares story in powerful ad against abortion bans

Abortion will likely be a major issue facing hardline Republicans who are seeking election next year

Ariana Baio
Thursday 21 September 2023 15:30 BST
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A young girl’s chilling story of surviving sexual abuse at the hands of her stepfather is going viral after being used in Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear’s latest campaign advertisement hitting out at abortion bans.

Hadley, a young woman from Owensboro, Kentucky, bravely shared her story of how she survived sexual abuse and rape at the hands of her stepfather when she was only 12 years old in a video that circulated on social media on Wednesday.

In the video, released to promote Mr Beshear’s pro-choice stance on abortion, Hadley calls out Mr Beshear’s opponent Daniel Cameron for taking a hardline stance on abortion in the state.

“Anyone who believes there should be no exceptions for rape and incest could never understand what it’s like to stand in my shoes,” Hadley said in the video.

Millions of people shared the video, calling for Mr Beshear to remain in office and for the state to loosen its strict law that bans all abortions except to save a woman’s life or prevent a disabling injury.

Actor Sophia Bush re-posted the video on X, formerly known as Twitter, and wrote: “It’s heartbreaking that women have to open up their trauma to the world, simply to argue that we deserve autonomy and medical protection.”

“Gov Beshear, let’s go win it. We need allies like you,” Ms Bush added.

Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy also responded: “Real.”

Hundreds of other people praised Hadley for being brave enough to share her traumatic story with the world to advocate for reproductive healthcare for millions of women across the state.

When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v Wade last summer, abortion almost immediately became illegal in Kentucky because of the state’s trigger law.

Mr Cameron, the current attorney general of Kentucky who is now also running for governor, is a vocal anti-abortion advocate who has largely backed the state’s strict laws.

Andy Beshear (left) shared a young girl’s harrowing story of surviving sexual abuse (center) to call out his opponent Daniel Cameron’s (right) stance on abortion
Andy Beshear (left) shared a young girl’s harrowing story of surviving sexual abuse (center) to call out his opponent Daniel Cameron’s (right) stance on abortion (Getty Images ; AndyBeshearKY / X)

However, earlier this week, Mr Cameron softened his stance slightly, claiming he would sign legislation that would allow abortions in the case of rape or incest – like the horrific situation Hadley was forced into.

The sudden change of heart from Mr Cameron may be a sign that he is aware of his widely unpopular stance when it comes to abortion – the same problem many Republican candidates may face as they seek election in 2024.

Several political analysts and experts pointed out how anti-abortion stances isolate millions of voters in response to Mr Beshear’s campaign ad.

“To understand how much trouble the GOP is in from abortion watch this ad running now in *Kentucky*,” Simon Rosenberg tweeted.

Jeff Timmer, a senior advisor to the Lincoln Project wrote: “This is who Republicans target when they want to criminalize abortion, even in cases of rape and incest.

If you have been affected by the issues raised in this story, the NHS signposts to support through this page. Or you can speak to someone in confidence at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service, the UK’s largest abortion provider, by calling 03457 30 40 30 or emailing info@bpas.org

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