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Culture

High School Valedictorian Scraps Prepared Speech To Address Abortion Rights

Paxton Smith went off-script to protest Texas’ restrictive new abortion law.

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High School Valedictorian Scraps Prepared Speech To Address Abortion Rights

Paxton Smith went off-script to protest Texas’ restrictive new abortion law.

In a brave act of defiance, Paxton Smith, the valedictorian of her class at Lake Highlands High School in Dallas, scrapped a speech approved by her school’s administration to protest Texas’ new abortion law, one of the most restrictive in the country. Going off-script, Smith delivered a powerful address on the bill, which bans abortions — even in instances of rape and incest — after six weeks.

“Under light of recent events, it feels wrong to talk about anything but what is currently affecting me and millions of other women in the state,” Smith began, referencing Governor Greg Abbott’s passage of the “Heartbeat Bill” on May 20. Smith continued:

“I have dreams and hopes and ambitions. Every girl graduating today does. And we have spent our entire lives working towards our future. And without our input and without our consent, our control over that future has been stripped away from us.I  am terrified that if my contraceptives fail, I am terrified that if I am raped, then my hopes and aspirations and dreams and efforts for my future will no longer matter. I hope that you can feel how gut-wrenching that is. I hope you can feel how dehumanizing it is, to have the autonomy over your own body taken away from you.”

The 18-year-old, who is currently trending on Twitter, concluded: “I cannot 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 mothers, a war on the rights of your sisters, a war on the rights of your daughters.”

Watch Paxton Smith’s graduation speech above.

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