We are excited to have Paxton Smith as a guest on our podcast this week. Paxton Smith is a student, writer, and musician. She is widely known for her valedictory address which confronted harsh abortion laws in Texas. It has since been heard around the world and has been translated/published into a variety of languages. She is now co-authoring A War on My Body; A War on My Rights, which is set to be released on January 22, 2022. Paxton is carrying out her studies at The University of Texas at Austin, while also serving on the advisory board for A is For, a nonprofit that uses the arts to destigmatize abortion.
Gloria Allred acclaimed American women’s rights attorney’s 80th birthday said “I am not passing the torch to Paxton because of my birthday. I am not finished. I have many fights left. But I am sharing the torch.”
Smith’s valedictory address:
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.
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