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Student Praised For Powerful Speech On Abortion Laws

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Student Praised For Powerful Speech On Abortion Laws

A high school valedictorian from Texas has gone viral after courageously going off script during her graduation speech to denounce the state's abortion laws.

Paxton Smith - a student at Lake Highlands High School in Dallas - decided to make a bold political statement as she took to the podium on Sunday.

While her original speech, which was about the impact of the media on young minds, was vetted and approved by school officials, she chose to ditch it and speak about Texas' heartbeat bill instead.

Listen to an excerpt below:

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The law was approved by Governor Greg Abbott a week and a half ago, and bans abortions after a foetal heartbeat is detectable.

There are no exceptions to this rule, and it essentially means that women could be banned from getting abortion as early as six weeks after conception - when many don't even know they're expecting.

"I cannot give up this platform to promote complacency and peace when there is a war on my body and a war on my rights," she said in her speech.

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"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.

"I have dreams and hopes and ambition. Every girl graduating today does. 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.

Smith went against her speech to make a bold statement (Credit: YouTube)
Smith went against her speech to make a bold statement (Credit: YouTube)

"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.

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"I hope that you can feel how gut-wrenching that is, I hope that you can feel how dehumanising it is, to have the autonomy over your own body taken from you".

The heartbeat bill will be going into effect in September, and is one of the strictest abortion laws in the whole of the US.

Reacting to Paxton's speech, people were full of praise for the student for using her moment to speak her mind.

"This took guts. Thank you for not staying silent, Paxton," said 2016 Presidential candidate for the Democrats, Hillary Clinton.

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Credit: Twitter
Credit: Twitter

Meanwhile, another woman wrote: "I was lucky to give my high school's valedictorian speech. Something I could only do because my teenage parents did something actually brave and gave me life."

"Wow. Chills. Legit. Pins and needles all throughout my body. That. Is. Amazing," somebody else wrote.

Credit: Twitter
Credit: Twitter
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Credit: Twitter
Credit: Twitter
Credit: Twitter
Credit: Twitter

As another penned: "'Dehumanising' - I've never heard it put just that way, but it absolutely is. I can't imagine what it must feel like for a young woman to see these laws over their bodies being passed by performative, Bible-spewing politicians, pandering for votes."

Speaking to D Magazine, Paxton said the popularity of the video was "weird for me personally".

She also used her platform to encourage people to vote, "and to stay involved in local elections because those have more power than I think the media gives them credit for".

Despite the overwhelmingly positive response to the speech, the school was quick to separate itself from Paxton's words.

"The content of each student speaker's message is the private, voluntary expression of the individual student and does not reflect the endorsement, sponsorship, position or expression of the District or its employees," the Richardson Independent School District said.

It went on to say school speech protocols would be looked into before next year's ceremony.

Featured Image Credit: Youtube/ Tim Rogers

Topics: Life News, Real, US News, abortion, Real Life

Joanna Freedman
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