A valedictorian of the class of 2021 at Lake Highlands High School in Dallas, Texas, has recently made news after giving a valedictorian speech that no one expected at her graduation ceremony.
Paxton Smith, who graduated on Sunday, May 30, had submitted one speech — reportedly about media and how her consumption of it has shaped her worldview, per D Magazine’s Tim Rogers — and decided to write another, about the most recent anti-choice bill that Governor Abbott signed just a few short weeks ago that bans abortion at six weeks.
For the uninitiated, a six-week abortion ban bill (otherwise known as a heartbeat bill) passed the Texas House, Senate, and was signed by Greg Abbott, the governor of Texas, in May.
The bill is controversial (and anti-scientific!) for obvious reasons: one, it bans abortion well before many people even know they are pregnant, and two, abortion providers often like to wait until eight or 10 weeks of pregnancy to perform abortions because it’s safest. And, per Moira Donegan at the Guardian, when abortion is banned at six weeks, tons of health conditions — like ectopic pregnancies, which are not viable and can kill the pregnant person — are not yet diagnosable.
So, the bill is a disaster from a public health perspective, and it’s one that will harm pregnant people across the state of Texas with little regard for the quality of their lives.
And that, apparently, got Paxton Smith, a high school senior, pretty angry. And she decided to give a graduation speech to that effect. The speech begins at about 4:30 in the video below.
“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 hope you can feel how gut-wrenching it is, how dehumanizing it is, to have the autonomy over your own body taken from you,” she said in the speech, the full of extent of which can be watched below.