A 16-year-old girl from Tucson slammed Arizona Republican senator Jeff Flake during a town hall on Thursday, grilling him over his support for a law that will give states the right to deny Title X funds to family-planning centers that also provide abortions, like Planned Parenthood.
President Trump signed the bill into law on Thursday, the same day as Flake’s town hall, and it was seen by many as a strike at Planned Parenthood, which uses Title X money to provide healthcare to millions of low-income women across the country.
“Jeff Flake, my name is Deja Foxx and I’m a 16-year-old from Tucson,” Foxx began. “I just want to state some facts. So, I’m a young woman, and you’re a middle-aged man. I’m a person of color, and you’re white. I come from a background of poverty, and I didn’t always have parents to guide me through life. You come from privilege,” she continued, amid shouts of support from the crowd.
“So, I’m wondering, as a Planned Parenthood patient and someone who relies on Title X, who you are clearly not, why it’s your right to take away my right to choose Planned Parenthood and to choose no-co-pay birth control, to access that,” Foxx said. “So, if you can explain that to me, I would appreciate it.”
Her comments drew raucous applause from the audience, and Flake waited for the noise to die down before addressing Foxx.
“I’m glad to hear of my privileged childhood,” Flake said, before adding that he was one of 11 children and paid his own college tuition. He continued, “I am fortunate that I have a wonderful job representing the state of Arizona,” drawing boos from the crowd.
“Privilege comes in many forms,” Foxx shot back.
Flake acknowledged that and said, “I’ve had a lot of advantages that others haven’t. What I want is to make sure that everyone can realize the American dream that all of have been successful at. So, that’s what I try to do, that’s why I support the policies that I support,” he added.
Foxx rebutted Flake’s comments, saying that her dream was to complete higher education and that Planned Parenthood was helping her do that. “Why would you deny me the American dream?” she asked.
Foxx had also participated at a patient roundtable earlier that day and explained why the issue was so important to her. “I am a ‘youth on their own’ – meaning I don’t live with my parents or have a permanent home,” she said, using a transcript provided by Planned Parenthood. “So when I needed birth control and reproductive health care, I didn’t have anyone to help me navigate the health care system.”
She added that because she did not have access to her state insurance card, her healthcare was covered entirely by Title X funds. Foxx also expressed her desire to one day run for political office, saying that “someone has got to stop these political attacks on our reproductive rights.”
Watch the full exchange below:
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect that Foxx’s comments were relayed in a transcript provided by Planned Parenthood, not a script provided by the organization.