This is a great profile of Hadley Duvall, the young woman in Kentucky (now a college senior) who filmed an ad attacking Republican candidate Daniel Cameron for supporting legislation that would have used state coercion to carry the pregnancy she conceived as a 12-year-old (she ultimately miscarried) after many years of being sexually abused by her stepfather:
The day after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, Duvall opened the Notes app on her phone and started to write.
She’d scrolled through over a dozen Facebook posts from friends and family celebrating the decision, growing angrier with each new Bible verse in her feed. A Christian herself, Duvall struggled to understand why they wanted to take rights away from young women and girls in vulnerable situations. If they knew the full extent of what she’d been through, she wondered, would any of them see this differently?
“The father figure in my life had planted his child in me at the age of 12,” she wrote in her draft. “Thankfully, I had my CHOICE. I never had to go through with my decision, but I would have … if you can look at a CHILD & tell them you think they should have to carry their parents child, you are sick.”
With the post still safely tucked away in Notes, Duvall thought about all the people in her life it might upset. Her boyfriend’s conservative family, whom she was eager to impress. Her mom, who still didn’t know about the pregnancy. Most of all, she said, she worried about her half sister, whom her mom put up for adoption when she got pregnant unexpectedly at 21. More than two decades later, her sister — who made contact with the family when Duvall was 13 — would sometimes post antiabortion messages online.
“What if she hates me?” Duvall remembered thinking. “What if she thinks I hate her?”
Interestingly and tellingly, despite the ad going sufficiently viral that she was one of the first people Beshear thanked after winning, she did not face nearly the backlash at the small Christian college in central Kentucky than she expected:
Duvall has thought a lot about why her ad resonated so deeply, especially with moderates and conservatives in her Republican state. While a lot of people don’t particularly like the idea of abortion, she said, they might think differently about the issue when they’re introduced to a real person with a story like hers.
“It’s real easy to dismiss the rape and incest exceptions when they’re not right in front of your face,” Duvall said.
Ahead of the election, shedecided to keepa few of her Facebook posts public — so voters could see her hugging her mom, walking her dog, wearing her homecoming sash. If her face was persuasive to people, she decided she might as well use it.
From the beginning, the Beshear campaign had warned Duvall to brace for backlash to the commercial. But sitting in the Midway student center a week after the election, Duvall told her friends she hasn’t had to deal with much.
“It’s been nothing bad,” said Duvall, lying back in a chair, pink sneakers slung over the armrest.
Duvall had just arrived back on campus with her arm in a cast after having surgery for an old athletic injury.
“I don’t even know how you hate on it, not going to lie,” one of Duvall’s friends said. “There’s not really a way to hate on it.”
“Especially when you are the male species,” Duvall said. “Like, what are you talking about? Nobody even asked you.”
“And was never, ever going to,” said Kyaria Cotton, Duvall’s best friend and former roommate.
They all laughed.
Abortion rights win when they’re on the ballot for good reason — it’s hard not to see what the Republican Party wanted to do here is monstrous, and once you’ve rejected the idea that women have reproductive autonomy there’s no logical end point.