Guest Post by Rachel Schroder
Paxton Smith, a high school valedictorian from Dallas, dedicated her commencement speech to how women should have the right to abortion. As a fellow graduating senior from Texas, I have a different take. I do want to say that, in a way, I admire her boldness to present what was on her heart. It is not easy to speak out knowing that what you say will be available on the internet for anyone to attack you over.
However, Paxton does not have credibility just because she is a young female. She does not speak for many Texas women. Here’s why.
Paxton said that the new abortion restrictions in Texas would take away a woman’s ability to decide whether she is ready to bring a new life into existence. But women already have this choice. Everyone who willingly engages in sex knows that there is a possibility that a new life could be formed through their actions. I’m sorry, Paxton; the decision whether you are ready and able to bring a new human being into the world is a choice you should make before you have sex. A child’s life, which begins at conception, is too high a price to pay for sexual gratification.
Paxton also argued that without abortion, women’s control over their futures would be stripped from them. In saying this, she implied that women are not strong enough to be mothers and be successful at the same time. To say that having a baby would ruin the ambitions of a young woman is anti-woman and underestimates us. We can do much more than only care for a child or only have a career.
Later on in her speech, Paxton said something ironic. She said, “I hope you can feel how dehumanizing it is to have the autonomy over your own body taken away from you.” I agree. Abortion permanently and completely takes away the bodily autonomy of individuals by killing them. Just ask abortion survivors like Claire Culwell and Gianna Jessen. Today, Gianna suffers from cerebral palsy as a result of the failed attempt on her life. I think both would agree that it is gutwrenching to think about having their bodily autonomy stripped of them without their consent through abortion. A woman does have rights over her own body. She has the right to decide if she is ready for a baby before sex. She does not have the right to take the life of her innocent child after sex.
Like Paxton, I believe women should be able to pursue their own destinies. Like Paxton, I believe women are strong. However, I think women are even stronger than Paxton has been led to believe. I have known so many empowered women who have had children who also pursued their passions, education, and careers. Being a strong woman means persevering through difficulties. We can accomplish so much more than society tells us. We do not have to choose one option while killing the other, literally or figuratively.
Here’s some food for thought… if Paxton Smith’s boldness was so representative of my generation, why was her speech newsworthy? She does not represent women like me.