A high school valedictorian made headlines recently when she swapped out her approved speech for one championing abortion rights and slammed Texas' new, restrictive "heartbeat" law. In her speech, Paxton Smith sounded resolved, if angry.
"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," Smith said in her speech at the graduation ceremony for Lake Highlands High School in Dallas.
As a staunch pro-life advocate that has been following the culture war on life for decades, I'm glad this high school graduate is angry. It means the right is onto something and we might be finally changing the tide. If leftists are willing to rage about a bill meant to protect the lives of babies from being snuffed out—and during a graduation speech at that—they might just finally feel a fraction of the rage pro-life advocates have felt since the Supreme Court legalized abortion in 1973.
Smith's outrage is a bit much. "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 and without our consent, our control over that future has been stripped away from us," Smith said.
Without context, you'd think she was living in the year 1941, battling the Nazi regime. Instead, she's raging that women can't have an abortion anymore in Texas. I hope, if one of my daughters' lament some societal ill at a similar speech in their teens, it's not the loss of the right to murder a tiny baby.
The passage of the Texas heartbeat bill and similar ones throughout the country demonstrate a possible shift American culture might be having on abortion, even if the topic remains polarizing.
Texas' new law bans abortions once the baby's heartbeat is detected—which is often as early as six weeks and the same time women usually realize they're pregnant. Opponents claim this is radical as it effectively bans abortion in Texas. Proponents claim banning abortion isn't extreme, but perpetuating abortion via bad laws like Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. Casey is actually awful for culture, families, and especially, the unborn.
Several states worked to pass similar heartbeat bills the last several years. Ohio, Georgia, Louisiana, Missouri, Alabama, and Kentucky all have similar heartbeat bills to the Texas law. The design of Texas' law is ingenious: It allows private citizens to sue abortion providers who break the law.
A 2020 Marist poll found that prior to the election, more Americans wanted to support candidates who advocated for restrictions on abortions. While the same poll found that Americans are more likely to identify as pro-choice (55 percent) than pro-life (40 percent), that's actually an uptick in the number of pro-life Americans.
However, a 2020 Gallup poll found a slight increase in pro-choice advocates from the year prior. This could indicate a shift in the polarization of abortion—those who are against it are passionately so, and vice versa.
Laws like this are a double edged sword: They protect babies and are designed to challenge Roe v. Wade. Whether they're a product of culture or a stimulus driving a cultural shift is an enigma and American conservatives could probably make the case for both. These state laws could reflect a shift in the American paradigm on abortion or constituents could be driving their success, signaling that culture itself has become more pro-life.
Likewise, the visceral reaction to these laws demonstrates the old adage nicely: If you're getting flak, you're hitting the target. For decades, pro-life advocates have been sad, angry, desperate, and willing to shed light on the awful realities of abortion which not only kills the unborn baby but often leaves the mother depressed and anxious, more than she would have been if she'd just given birth and given the baby up for adoption.
I'm glad leftists are mad. For once now they can feel a sliver of the outrage we have felt knowing abortion has allowed the death of millions of babies over the years—and I hope it means they think they're losing.