A Texas high school valedictorian, who went viral after she changed her speech to speak out against the state’s newly passed abortion law, reacted to the news that the abortion ban will not be stopped by the courts.
“It’s very sad to see, and it is so heart-wrenching that so many people in Texas have had a fundamental human right taken away from them today,” Paxton Smith, who is a freshman at the University of Texas, told CNN’s Brianna Keilar.
“I’m very upset that this law has been able to go into effect, and I know a lot of people share that sentiment and the idea that if we do face ourselves with an unplanned pregnancy then that life-changing decision … is no longer up to us.”
Smith said that looking back, she is glad that she changed her speech and her comments still stand.
“I think a lot of times some of the most important voices in the issue are not listened to,” Smith said. “It deeply affects every person differently and very personally … and I think that’s something that needed to be talked about.”
Texas abortion ban law goes into effect
The Texas law bars abortions at six weeks and went into effect early Wednesday morning after the Supreme Court and a federal appeals court failed to rule on pending emergency requests brought by abortion providers.
Under the law, abortion is prohibited when a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is often before a woman knows she is pregnant. There is no exception for rape or incest, although there is an exemption for “medical emergencies.”
The law also allows private citizens to bring civil suits against anyone who assists a pregnant woman seeking an abortion in violation of the ban.
“The Texas law will significantly impair women’s access to the health care they need, particularly for communities of color and individuals with low incomes,” President Biden said in a statement Wednesday.
“My administration is deeply committed to the constitutional right established in Roe v. Wade nearly five decades ago and will protect and defend that right,” he added.
South Carolina, Oklahoma and Idaho have also passed bans on abortion at the onset of a fetal heartbeat this year, and Arkansas and Oklahoma have enacted near-total abortion bans. Montana banned the procedure at 20 weeks. None of the bills have gone into effect, either because of court actions or later effective dates.
The Supreme Court is set to take up a key abortion case next term concerning a Mississippi law that banned most abortions after 15 weeks, rekindling a potentially major challenge to Roe v. Wade.
CNN’s Caroline Kelly contributed to this report.