A Texas valedictorian has lashed out at the state’s controversial abortion ban during her graduation speech, calling it ‘dehumanizing’.
Paxton Smith veered off-script during her address at Lake Highlands high school and footage has gone widespread on social media.
Faculty at given the go-ahead for her pre-written speech on how television and the wider media landscape had helped shape her worldview.
The teen, however, had something else on her mind.
“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,” she said.
A TikTok clip of the speech has garnered hundreds of thousand of views.
The ban was passed into law by the state’s governor, Greg Abbot, in May, and forbids abortion from taking place at the six-week mark, with no exception for cases of rape or incest.
Under the new law, private citizens also have the right to sue anyone who aids in an abortion.
The bill has been faced with lawsuits and harsh criticism, with many claiming that it will make abortions a near impossibility for women in Texas.
Smith continued: “I have dreams, hopes and ambitions,” Smith said. “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,” she added. “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.”
Former presidential candidate, Hilary Clinton, championed the teen on Twitter, tweeting: “This took guts. Thank you for not staying silent.”
Former Democratic Texas congressman, Beto O’ Rourke, also praised Smith with a tweet that reads: “Paxton, thank you for having the courage of your convictions and inspiring Texas with your refusal to accept injustice as the price of participation in civic life.
“May we all use our place in this democracy to fight for what we believe to be right and follow your example!”
During an interview with D Magazine, Paxton implored people to vote “and to stay involved in local elections because those have more power than I think the media gives them credit for.”
Is the Texas abortion ban too extreme?
Image Via Alamy.