Paxton Smith Biography – Paxton Smith Wiki
Paxton Smith is the valedictorian of the class of 2021 at Lake Highlands High School in Dallas, Texas, who ditched her pre-approved speech about TV and media and content to speak out against the state’s new abortion restrictions.
The Lake Highlands High School Valedictorian planned to deliver a speech about the effect of the media on young minds, but eleven days before the graduation (on May 19, 2021), Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed Texas Senate Bill 8, virtually prohibiting abortion across the state.
“I thought about making the speech at a different venue, like a rally where people wouldn’t be upset at what I had to say” said Paxton. “But a large part of the reason I made the speech at graduation was that was the only place I could think of where I could reach so many people from so many different backgrounds. It did cross my mind that this is a family event where people are cheering for their kids, but this is a universal topic, and it affects everyone. I felt it needed to be said.”
Texas currently bans abortion after 20 weeks, but the new law makes the procedure illegal after the first heartbeat can be detected, usually at about six weeks. Most women aren’t aware they are pregnant until after that mark. The bill, which takes effect in September, makes no exception for pregnancies resulting from rape or incest and allows individual citizens to sue healthcare workers and anyone else who may have helped a pregnant woman obtain the procedure.
Smith finished her speech and drew raucous applause from the crowd of parents, students and teachers at the football field at Lake Highlands High School in Dallas. Since then, videos of the speech have exploded on social media, making headlines around the world and drawing praise from high-profile people like comedian Sarah Silverman and former U.S. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Paxton Smith Valedictorian Speech – Paxton Smith Speech Transcript
The full transcript of Paxton Smith’s valedictorian speech is below:
As we leave high school we need to make our voices heard. 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 this state.
Recently the heartbeat bill was passed in Texas. Starting in September, there will be a ban on abortions after 6 weeks of pregnancy, regardless of whether the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest. 6 weeks. That’s all women get. 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 being into the world, that decision is made for them by a stranger. A decision that will affect the rest of their lives has been made by a stranger.
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 or consent, our control over that future has been stripped away from us. I am terrified that if my contraceptives fail, I am terrified that if I’m raped, then my hopes and aspirations and dreams and efforts for my future will no longer matter. I hope that you can feel how gut-wrenching it is. I hope you can feel how dehumanizing it is to have the autonomy over your own body taken away from you.
And I’m talking about this today, on a day as important as this, on a day honoring 12 years of hard academic work, on a day where we are all gathered together, on a day where you are most inclined to listen to a voice like mine, a woman’s voice, to tell you that this is a problem. And it’s a problem that cannot wait. 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. 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. Thank you.
Paxton Smith Parents
Paxton Smith talked to her three parents about her decision. Two of her parents read her new speech and approved; the third wasn’t thrilled but agreed to keep quiet. Her father said he couldn’t be prouder of his daughter and her actions.
Paxton Smith Age
She is 18 years old.