Last month, Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott signed his state's "heartbeat bill" into law.
The brutal anti-abortion legislation bans all abortions after six weeks, before many even know they're pregnant. What's more, the legislation allows virtually any private citizen to sue abortion providers or anyone else who facilitates an abortion after the six week mark.
The law sparked massive backlash from pro-choice advocates who vowed to sue the state for Roe v. Wade violations.
But new criticism from one young Texan is going viral for calling attention to the dangers the laws imposes. Paxton Smith, the valedictorian of Lake Highlands High School, threw out her approved graduation speech to implore her fellow Texans to fight for the legions of those disenfranchised by restrictive abortion laws.
Watch the moving video below.
In Texas, Lake Highlands High School valedictorian, Paxton Smith, switched out her approved speech to talk about ab… https://t.co/JMpFYGSdck— Kolleen (@Kolleen) 1622616819.0
"Starting in September, there will be a ban on abortions that take place after 6 weeks of pregnancy, regardless of whether the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest. 6 weeks. Most women don't even realize they're pregnant by then. And so, before they have the time to decide if they are emotionally, physically, and financially stable enough to carry out a full-term pregnancy, before they have the chance to decide if they can take on the responsibility of bringing another human into the world, the decision has been made for them by a stranger."
"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. 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."
The speech was met with unanimous praise on social media.
Take Your Shot... Speak Your Truth Brava Paxton https://t.co/JHe5yKFlp5— Shannon in Ohio 4 (@Shannon in Ohio 4) 1622658723.0
Listen to her. This is bravery & truth. ❤️ https://t.co/zVVSeB46xL— kristen johnston (@kristen johnston) 1622651903.0
Paxton Smith bypassed what was “approved” to do what was right. May our established leaders find the bravery of thi… https://t.co/3F6XDxMUaJ— PoliticsGirl (@PoliticsGirl) 1622652933.0
Wrote two whole speeches so she could pull off the switch. Brava. https://t.co/n5U9ytJloI— Franklin Leonard (@Franklin Leonard) 1622661315.0
"Courage" was the word used by many.
This girl went rogue in her valedictorian speech & gave an incredible speech on abortion access— in one of the most… https://t.co/mubEi09yYP— Kate Kelly (@Kate Kelly) 1622650886.0
Paxton, thank you for having the courage of your convictions and inspiring Texas with your refusal to accept injust… https://t.co/bmBQBS9TUi— Beto O'Rourke (@Beto O'Rourke) 1622657097.0
This, in Texas, from a high school student, shows more courage than 85% of our elected leaders. https://t.co/MUvlRn1kbs— Elie Mystal (@Elie Mystal) 1622648780.0
Paxton's speech comes as the conservative Supreme Court has confirmed it will hear arguments against a similar abortion ban in Mississippi, potentially delivering a major defeat to abortion rights advocates across the country.