Dallas teen takes on Texas' abortion bill in viral valedictorian speech

Lake Highlands, Texas – A Texas high school valedictorian has gone viral after using her platform to give an emotional speech on the state's recently passed fetal "heartbeat" bill.

Paxton Smith's valedictorian speech on Texas' abortion bill has since gone viral.
Paxton Smith's valedictorian speech on Texas' abortion bill has since gone viral.  © Screenshot/YouTube/Tim Rogers

When Paxton Smith became valedictorian at Like Highlands High School outside Dallas, she certainly didn't imagine giving a speech like this one.

"Today I was going to talk about TV and media and content, because it's something that's very important to me. However, under light of recent events, it feels wrong to talk about anything but what is currently affecting me and millions of other women in the state," she said after taking the stage to a football stadium filled with socially-distanced teachers, classmates, and families.

The GOP-backed bill, signed by Texas Governor Greg Abbott in May, bans abortions after around six weeks and does not make an exception in cases of rape or incest.

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The law is unique in that private citizens will be allowed launch forth lawsuits against abortion providers.

"I have dreams, and hopes, and ambitions, every girl graduating today does, and we have spent our entire lives working towards our future. And without our input, and without our consent, our control over that future has been stripped away from us," Paxton said in response to the new law, which is set to take effect in September.

"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," the Texas teen continued.

She then made a powerful, emotional appeal to the audience: "I hope that you can feel how gut-wrenching that is. I hope you can feel how dehumanizing it is to have the autonomy over your own body taken away from you."

Paxton finished on a strong note: "I cannot give up this platform to promote complacency and peace when there was a war on my body and a war on my rights. A war on the rights of your mothers, a war on the rights of your sisters, a war on the rights of your daughters. We cannot stay silent."

Politicians and celebrities praise Paxton

The news of Paxton's bold speech spread like wildfire across the internet.

The valedictorian has since garnered praise from politicians including Hillary Clinton and Beto O'Rourke as well as celebrities like Sarah Silverman and Jodi Picoult.

Paxton, who plans to attend the University of Texas at Austin this fall, seems to have a bright future ahead, and she'll hopefully continue devoting her talents to issues that matter.

Cover photo: Screenshot/YouTube/Tim Rogers

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