Governor Greg Abbott and Paxton Smith.
Governor Greg Abbott and Paxton Smith.
  • A Texas valedictorian surprised administrators by using her speech to attack Texas' restrictive new abortion law.
  • Paxton Smith was praised by Hillary Clinton for her "courage."
  • "This takes guts," tweeted Clinton.
  • The "heartbeat" bill bans abortions after six weeks and provides no exceptions for rape or incest.
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A Texas valedictorian went viral and received praise from Hilary Clinton for her "courage" after she dropped her pre-approved speech and instead used her allotted time to attack Governor Greg Abbott's recently-passed anti-abortion law.

Paxton Smith, the valedictorian at Lake Highlands High School Class of 2021, had received approval to give a speech in which she discussed her perception of the media, she told D Magazine.

Instead, Smith attacked the anti-abortion bill signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott in May.

Known as the "heartbeat" bill, the law bans abortions after six weeks and does not provide exceptions for rape or incest. The legislation is due to take effect in September, Insider's Conor Perrett and Madison Hall reported.

"Today I was going to talk about TV and media and content because it's something that's very important to me," said Smith.

"However, under light of recent events, it feels wrong to talk about anything but what is affecting me and millions of other people in the state.

"Recently the heartbeat bill was passed in Texas.

"Starting in September, there will be a ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy regardless of whether the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest. Six weeks: That's all women get."

She added: "Most of them don't realise that they're pregnant by six weeks. So before they have a chance to decide if they're 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 a human being into the world, that decision is made for them by a stranger."

A clipped video of Smith delivering the speech was shared more than 40,000 times on Twitter, and she received praise from Hillary Clinton.

"This took guts. Thank you for not staying silent, Paxton," Clinton tweeted.

In an interview with D Magazine, Smith said that some administrators were angered by her decision to drop the pre-approved speech, and said the school could withhold her diploma. But she said that threat had not materialised.

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