Dallas High School Valedictorian Scraps Approved Speech to Speak Out Against State’s Extreme Anti-Choice Law

Posted by on June 4, 2021 in Conscious Living, Peace & Human Rights with 0 Comments

Paxton Smith, the valedictorian of Lake Highlands High School in Dallas, decided against delivering her approved speech at her graduation on Sunday and opted instead to speak out against her state's newly signed anti-choice law. (Photo: YouTube/screenshot)

By Julia Conley | Common Dreams

A Texas high school valedictorian's graduation speech garnered attention from Democratic lawmakers and rights advocates Wednesday after going viral on social media—not for the typical optimism contained in such addresses, but for the student's decision to go off-script and speak out against her state's assault on reproductive rights.

At Lake Highlands High School's graduation on Sunday in Dallas, Paxton Smith scrapped her valedictory address—which had been approved by school officials—and told her audience it felt wrong to her “to talk about anything but what is currently affecting me and millions of other women in this state.”


“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.”
—Paxton Smith

“Starting in September, there will be a ban on abortions that take place after six weeks of pregnancy, regardless of whether the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest,” Smith said, referring to Senate Bill 8, which Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law last month.

In addition to banning abortion care after six weeks of pregnancy, at which point many women don't yet know they're pregnant, the law allows any citizen to sue anyone who “aids or abets” a patient who has an abortion—including clinic employees, friends or family members who drive the patient to their appointment, or providers.

“I have dreams, hopes, and ambitions,” said Smith. “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.”

Smith's speech begins at the 4:38 mark below:

Smith won praise from lawmakers including Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-Texas) and state Rep. Julie Johnson, both of whom applauded the graduate's “brave” decision to speak candidly about abortion care in a congressional district that has historically been solidly Republican before voters elected Democratic Rep. Colin Allred in 2018.

Others on social media echoed the lawmakers' admiration, calling Smith “a force” and thanking her for articulating “the connection between a woman's achievements, opportunities, and control over her body.”


This is courage. In one of the most conservative districts in Texas. I am in awe. https://t.co/xfClYhb6bc

— Lauren Hough (@laurenthehough) June 2, 2021

“I refuse to give up this platform to promote complacency and peace when there is a war on my body and a war on my rights,” Smith said in her speech. “A war on the rights of your sisters, a war on the rights of your mothers, a war on the rights of your daughters. We cannot stay silent.”

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Subscribe

If you enjoyed this article, subscribe now to receive more just like it.

Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on YouTube

New Title

NOTE: Email is optional. Do NOT enter it if you do NOT want it displayed.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

FAIR USE NOTICE. Many of the articles on this site contain copyrighted material whose use has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making this material available in an effort to advance the understanding of environmental issues, human rights, economic and political democracy, and issues of social justice. We believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of the copyrighted material as provided for in Section 107 of the US Copyright Law which contains a list of the various purposes for which the reproduction of a particular work may be considered fair, such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. If you wish to use such copyrighted material for purposes of your own that go beyond 'fair use'...you must obtain permission from the copyright owner. And, if you are a copyright owner who wishes to have your content removed, let us know via the "Contact Us" link at the top of the site, and we will promptly remove it.

The information on this site is provided for educational and entertainment purposes only. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice of any kind. Conscious Life News assumes no responsibility for the use or misuse of this material. Your use of this website indicates your agreement to these terms.

Paid advertising on Conscious Life News may not represent the views and opinions of this website and its contributors. No endorsement of products and services advertised is either expressed or implied.
Top
Send this to a friend