Earlier this month, Paxton Smith, a graduate of the Lake Highlands High School in Dallas, Texas, set aside her approved valedictorian speech and instead spoke about abortion and the threat that Texas’s new heartbeat bill, in her view, poses to young women. Her speech has gone viral and received the praise of mainstream media, as well as caught the attention of abortion advocates like Hilary Clinton, who tweeted, “This took guts.”
Recently the heartbeat bill was passed in Texas. 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. Six 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. A decision that will affect the rest of their lives.
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.
Note Paxton’s telling choice of words: “the responsibility of bringing another human into the world.” That’s the focus of this powerful response to Paxton’s speech, from Sarah Elizabeth Lowe, a graduate of the same high school Paxton spoke to:
My very life exists because of a brave young girl who made a hard decision to carry me, and then to give me life through adoption.
I am forever grateful for her decision, and it is not lost on me the fear and emotion and sacrifice that was a part of that decision...when her plans as a high-schooler were turned upside down with my pregnancy.
...a bravery and sacrifice I will never understand or even try to. Just one I am thankful for.
To see the valedictorian speech from my own high school going viral right now (you can google it if you want)...spoken with such disdain for life in the womb, and describe an unexpected pregnancy as a thwarting of hopes and dreams and aspirations and efforts for a future ... yes, it’s gut wrenching on so many levels.
And really? It’s just not true. It doesn’t have to be. There is another way than what she is fighting for. I’m living proof.
I sat in that very graduation for that very high school 20 years ago this year.
I sat there as an unplanned, adopted child about to pursue my own dreams and live the rest of my own life...because of the choice my birth mom made.
Life over death.
Was I an interruption to her life as a young girl? For sure. I can’t imagine that and I won’t try to understand it.
But I know what is on the other side of the hard choice she made. Because it’s me. And now it’s my kids.
My heart is heavier than it has been in a while seeing this, and I know everyone has different opinions. I am strong in mine too. I’m not here to debate.
I am here to simply say “Hi! Hello! I literally exist because instead of living in fear of how an unexpected pregnancy would mess up her life, my birth mother GAVE me life.”
There is absolutely no argument to this. It’s my story.
To fear the loss of hopes and dreams and aspirations and efforts for a future? Quite opposite...I was given life instead of seen as a forever hindrance. We both got life actually.
She fought a war for her daughter that didn’t involve death.
And one of the most beautiful parts? I now have a relationship with that brave woman who gave me life and it is beautifully redemptive.
We all deserve a chance to live and have a story.
Paxton’s speech is a reminder that despite their emphasis on choice, the pro-choice movement leaves many women believing that they have no choice but abortion. Abortion is constantly portrayed as the preferred choice. After all, a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy wonders, what’s the alternative? Raise a child she seemingly can’t afford, and who will disrupt her life choices like going to school and pursuing a career? Or experience the heartbreak of giving up a child for adoption?
But “abortion or misery” is a binary trap that keeps women from pursuing—and society from providing—positive alternatives. It’s a terrible thing to present pregnant women with inadequate choices, leaving them in an apparent no-win situation. We must reject this trap of presenting the choice between abortion and misery, as if there were no misery in abortion, and as if there were no alternatives.
Kathryn Jean Lopez quotes one wife and mother who responded to Paxton Smith’s speech: “Children—they don’t make women less than. They don’t stand in your way. They aren’t a barrier to your dreams. Abortion isn’t some great equalizer. The act of killing an unborn human does not make the world better for women.”
Tragically, “pro-choice” often ends up meaning “no choice but abortion.” Let’s do all we can to show women the real choices besides abortion—which are far superior, with outcomes involving life, not death.Browse more prolife articles and resources, as well as see Randy's books Pro-Choice or Pro-Life: Examining 15 Pro-Choice Claims, Why ProLife? and ProLife Answers to ProChoice Arguments.