Valedictorian Ditches Pre-Approved Graduation Speech And Talks About Abortion Rights
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A Texas high school student has gone viral for her incredible speech about abortion rights.
Paxton Smith submitted her valedictorian graduation commencement ceremony speech to administrators at Lake Highlands High School for approval.
She was reportedly meant to address students at the Dallas school about TV and media and officials gave her the all-clear just before Sunday's (May 31) ceremony.
However, when Ms Smith approached the lectern, she pulled out a different speech.
"Under 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.
"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. Six weeks. That's all women get.
"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 dehumanising it is to have the autonomy over your own body taken away from you."
The bill signed in by Governor Greg Abbott will likely be challenged in the courts and has sparked a wave of concern about women's rights and autonomy.
It was signed into law last month and is known as the 'heartbeat bill'.
It's controversial because some women don't even know they're pregnant at six weeks and therefore they could miss the window to terminate their pregnancy and then have nowhere to turn.
Paxton Smith opened up about how restrictive this bill and others like it are to women across the country.
"I have dreams, and hopes, and ambitions. Every girl graduating today does," she said.
"We have spent our whole lives working towards our futures, and without our input and without our consent, our control over our futures has been stripped away from us.
"I am terrified that if my contraceptives fail me, I am terrified that if I'm raped, then my hopes and aspirations and dreams and efforts for my future will no longer matter."
A copy of the video has been posted on TikTok, where it has amassed hundreds of thousands of views and likes.
Paxton told her parents about what she planned to do and they supported her because they believed she should speak from the heart.
The school, however, was less than impressed.
A school district administrator told Advocate Magazine that a review is underway to 'prevent something like this from happening again'.