High School Student Uses Graduation To Deliver Incredible Abortion Ban Speech | TOTUM
Ben Hayward June 2nd
2021

The valedictorian at a Texas high school went off script during her graduation speech to deliver a scathing criticism of the state’s abortion ban. 

Paxton Smith’s address has since been widely shared on social media, gaining recognition from high profile figures including former Democratic congressman Beto O’Rourke, and Hillary Clinton. 

School administrators had previously signed off on Smith’s pre-written speech on how TV and media have shaped her worldview, reports the Guardian.

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However, when it came to her actual address at Lake Highlands high school, the student went off-script… 

“In light of recent events, it feels wrong to talk about anything but what is currently affecting me and millions of other women in this state,” she said, her voice shaking as she began.

“Starting in September, there will be a ban on abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, regardless of whether the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest.

“I have dreams, hopes and ambitions. Every girl here does. We have spent our whole lives working towards our futures, and without our consent or input, our control over our futures has been stripped away from us.”

“I am terrified that if my contraceptives fail me, that if I’m raped, then my hopes and efforts and dreams for myself will no longer be relevant. I hope you can feel how gut-wrenching it is, how dehumanising it is, to have the autonomy over your own body taken from you.”

Smith’s speech comes in response to the law signed last month by Texas governor, Greg Abbott, creating a near-total ban on abortions.

The law prohibits the procedure at six weeks - a point at which most people don’t even know they are pregnant - as well as allowing anyone to sue an abortion provider or anyone who ‘aids and abets’ an abortion that violates the restriction.

On top of that, it makes no exception for rape or incest, in effect making abortion care impossible for women to access in the state.

Smith’s speech has now been viewed hundreds of thousands of times on TikTok, with Hillary Clinton, tweeted: “This took guts. Thank you for not staying silent, Paxton.”

The former Democratic Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke thanked Smith “for having the courage of your convictions and inspiring Texas with your refusal to accept injustice as the price of participation in civic life”.

Paxton finished her emotional address by saying: “I’m talking about this today, on a day as important as this, on a day honouring the students’ efforts in twelve years of schooling, on a day where we’re all brought together, on a day where you will be the most inclined to hear a voice like mine, a woman’s voice, to tell you that this is a problem. A problem that can’t wait.

"I refuse to give up this platform to promote complacency and peace, when there is a war on my body and a war on my rights. A war on the rights of your sisters, a war on the rights of your mothers, a war on the rights of your daughters.

“We cannot stay silent.”

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