Paxton Smith vs. the Texas Heartbeat Law

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Earlier this month, Texas teen Paxton Smith surprised the audience at her high school graduation and used her valedictory speech to criticize the state of Texas for protecting preborn children from abortion violence through the passage of the Texas Heartbeat Law. While no state has yet enacted protections for babies from the moment of conception, the Texas law is among the earliest protections nationwide, banning abortion violence on prenatal children whose heartbeats can be detected, three to four weeks after fertilization.

Smith has a right to speak her mind about the law. Unlike members of the woke cancel culture, pro-life Americans by and large hold that free speech and conversation about abortion was inappropriately shut down by the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade‘s sweeping cram-down of abortion on every state. By the same token, pro-life Americans have a right to voice the counter position to Paxton’s. I was proud of my colleagues Sarah Zarr and Melanie Salazar for doing just that at a rally this week in Austin, where they were interviewed by ABC’s Nightline.

Smith’s valedictory speech was not unique in that it echoed the typical abortion lobby talking points justifying aborting babies with heartbeats — that many women don’t know they’re pregnant before their baby’s heart starts beating (which is true); that the legislation does not afford exceptions for killing children conceived in rape or incest (also true); and that abortion restrictions in general strip women of “bodily autonomy” (not true).

As a fellow Texas woman and a mother of four young children born and raised in this great state, I’m compelled to provide a counterpoint to one of Paxton’s claims in particular: her assertion that without the right to kill her children, Paxton’s “hopes and dreams” for herself “will no longer be relevant.”

With this assertion, Paxton reveals that she has bought into the exact lie and internalized, anti-woman prejudice that the abortion industry has used to sell abortion to pregnant women in her shoes for decades: The lie that women are so fragile and so incapable of overcoming hardship that they are reduced to a binary choice between the murder of their own children, or utter failure at life. The reality is that no such binary exists. And insisting that it does is a relic of misogyny that the rest of us left behind in the 20thcentury.

It is a real tragedy that girls like Paxton traverse the difficult teenage years and beyond, coming of age without their parents, teachers, and role models ever telling them the truth: Resources and support are readily available to any woman facing the challenges of pregnancy. The truth that the abortion industry will do anything to raid her wallet and her body but will not be there to mourn her loss or pick up the pieces of her life after her child is dead. The truth that she has the capacity for selfless love great enough to place a child with an adoptive family, should she ever be faced with parenting before she feels prepared.

There is nothing empowering about a woman carrying a baby with a beating heart through the doors of Planned Parenthood to have his or her life extinguished so that she can pursue her plans. Once she is pregnant, her life has been permanently changed — whether she cuts her baby’s life short, chooses to parent, or places her child with an adoptive family. Once her child exists, he or she cannot be erased. And the abortion industry’s suggestion that a woman can simply resume the course she was on as if she never became a mother — as if another whole, unique, innocent human being never entered the world — is a lie.

The day after undergoing an abortion, a woman still needs an education, a job, equal treatment under the law, and access to opportunity. Abortion doesn’t address any of these needs; instead, it subtracts the human life inside of her who is not potentially but truly already her child — her family.

While Paxton Smith no doubt thought her speech was that of an empowered woman, it revealed a young teen cowed by the oppressive propaganda of Big Abortion. She doesn’t realize that she has more value than an economic cog in the engine of corporate America. She doesn’t see that she carries world-changing potential inside her very being. Paxton’s words are a painful reminder to all of us in the Pro-Life Generation that we must work with urgency to overcome abortion lies and spread the truth that women are courageous, and that they are not alone.

Lauren Enriquez is a media strategist at Students for Life of America and Students for Life Action. She lives in Texas.

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