06:37 GMT15 June 2021
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    In May, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed into law a bill banning abortions as early as six weeks, saying the legislation would ensure that "every unborn child with a heartbeat will be saved from the ravages of abortion".

    Netizens continue to remain at loggerheads over the valedictorian at a Texas high school criticising the state's abortion ban during her graduation speech.

    Paxton Smith's address to the graduating class of Lake Highlands high school apparently went off script after she moved to focus on the topic, recalling that as of September 2021, "there will be a ban on abortion after six weeks of pregnancy, regardless of whether the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest".

    "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 dehumanising it is, to have the autonomy over your own body taken from you", she said.

    According to Smith, without her "consent or input", the control over her "future has been stripped away" from her by the authorities.

    Smith's speech was published on several social networks, including TikTok, where it has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times.

    Some Twitter users, for their part, have praised the valedictorian over her critical remarks about the Texas abortion ban.

    Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton tweeted that Smith's move "took guts", thanking her "for not staying silent". The ex-Democratic presidential hopeful was echoed by many others, who gave kudos to the "incredibly brave" girl.

    Other netizens, however, reproached Smith for her "selfish" approach, with one user tweeting that "killing a child is not the path to happiness".

    The address comes after Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a six-week abortion ban last month, saying that "our Creator endowed us with the right to life and yet millions of children" lose such a right every year because of abortion. Texas is following the suit of other Republican-run states, including Arkansas, Idaho, Oklahoma, and South Carolina, which announced abortion bans earlier this year.


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