Paxton Smith had over a year to prepare her valedictorian speech, but when the moment came, there was only one topic she wanted to discuss: abortion rights. The Texas teen has gone viral for her empowering speech that condemned Gov. Greg Abbott and the “heartbeat bill” that was passed in May banning abortions as early as six weeks — in other words, before many people know they are even pregnant. Smith initially planned to talk about media consumption in a pre-approved speech, but when she pulled a piece of paper out from her gown, the graduating class at Lake Highlands High School got something entirely different.
“I have dreams, hopes, and ambitions. Every girl graduating today does. We have spent our entire lives working towards our futures, and without our input and 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 you can feel how gut-wrenching that is, how dehumanizing it is to have the autonomy over your own body taken away from you,” Smith said with passion.
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