It was supposed to be just another graduation speech when Paxton Smith got up to deliver her speech, which was supposed to be about TV media and content. However, the high school valedictorian decided to produce a completely different speech, which was against the controversial texas abortion ban law. “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," said Paxton during her Lake Highlands High School graduation speech. The video of the speech has since gone viral.
Paxton said, “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. 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."
According to CNN, Texas Governor Greg Abbott has signed an abortion bill into law that prohibits most abortions when a fetal heartbeat is detected The heartbeat can occur as early as six weeks into pregnancy and before many people know they are even pregnant.
Although Paxton was a little hesitant to change her speech, she could not let go off of such a big platform. She told CNN, “I was definitely going back and forth with myself because I fully anticipated that if I made the speech, there would be some negative repercussions socially. I thought that graduation was the only place where I was going to reach such a large audience and a group with so many different opinions and backgrounds that I was going to be able to make a speech like that."
Paxton revealed in her speech how the new law was “frightening" and “dehumanising." She said, “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 dehumanizing it is, to have the autonomy over your own body taken from you," Paxton added.
The viral speech has been viewed and shared thousands of times. Former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said in a tweet, “This took guts. Thank you for not staying silent, Paxton."