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A Texas high school graduate Paxton Smith skipped her approved graduation speech to deliver a glowing speech about the state’s new abortion ban.
Paxton Smith is the valedictorian of Lake Highlands High School’s class of 2021. She submitted her commencement speech for approval, then tossed it aside. She had something else to say about the new state law that bans abortions as early as six weeks. https://t.co/NUd5LLmU1a
— D Magazine (@DMagazine) June 1, 2021
“It feels wrong to talk about anything other than what affects me and millions of other women in this state right now,” Paxton Smith, who was appointed to leave Lake Highlands High School, told the crowd on Sunday .
The teenager then blew up the “Heartbeat Act” enacted by Texas Governor Greg Abbott as a “war on the rights” of her body and those of other girls and women.
“I cannot abandon this platform to encourage complacency and peace when there is a war on my body and a war on my right,” she told her class.
“A war against the rights of your mothers, a war against the rights of your sisters, a war against the rights of your daughters. We cannot be silent. ”
The new law prohibits any abortion after a first heartbeat can be detected, which could occur as early as six weeks after conception.
The legislation would also allow anyone to sue any state abortion provider or person who assisted an abortion for up to $ 10,000.
Smith, who plans to study music business at the University of Texas at Austin, said the law puts the future of all young women at risk.
“I have dreams and hopes and ambitions. Every girl graduating today does. We have spent all of our lives working on our future, and without our input and consent, our control over that future has been taken away, ”she said.
“I am afraid that my hopes, longings, dreams and efforts will no longer play a role in my future if my contraceptives fail, if I am raped. I hope you can feel how heartbreaking this is, I hope you can feel how dehumanizing it is to lose your autonomy over your own body, ”she continued.
Footage of the speech soon went viral on social media, where it was lauded by former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
“That took courage. Thank you for not keeping quiet, Paxton, ”Clinton wrote on Twitter.
In a statement, the Richardson Independent School District said it would review students’ voice logs before next year’s graduation ceremonies.
“The content of each student speaker’s message is the private, voluntary expression of the individual student and does not reflect the endorsement, sponsorship, position or expression of the district or its staff,” it said.