Texas teen Paxton Smith recently gave a passionate – and unapproved – valedictorian speech at her high school graduation ceremony expressing her personal opinions and concerns about pro-life state laws and the “war” they pose on her body and her rights.

The following is an open letter from Yvette Lopez-Warren, M.D. to the young women in Smith’s graduating class.

An open letter to the women graduates of Lake Highlands High School

Dear Graduates,

I’m a Texas girl. I was born and raised in San Antonio. I graduated from Thomas Edison High School. When I heard Paxton Smith’s valedictorian address at your recent graduation ceremony, I was taken back to my days as a hopeful 18-year-old, ready to go out into the world to achieve my hopes and dreams.

But can you guess what happened just two years after I graduated from high school? I got pregnant. I was a sophomore at Princeton University.

The reason I need you to hear my story is because what Ms. Paxton told you is not the whole story.

Can you imagine how I felt when I found out I was pregnant? Fourth overall in my high school class, top girl in the class, yearbook editor, club president, first person in my family to attend a prestigious Ivy League university…

So, when I visited the health center at Princeton, the nurse told me exactly what Ms. Paxton told you at your graduation. She told me my hopes and dreams of graduating and becoming a doctor would be dead, would not happen, if I had a baby. “Of course,” I should have an abortion, she said. After all, it was my right.

Dear young women, by God’s grace, I did not do what the nurse told me to do. I graduated from Princeton. I attended Temple University Medical School, one of the top programs in the nation, and became the Chief Resident in my family practice residency. I was then a distinguished graduate in officer training school in the Air Force, where I spent the next four years. I was a Major when I left the Air Force and was honored as the medical “provider of the year” during my tenure.

I have been practicing medicine for about 30 years. I have lots of certificates and degrees hanging on my wall. But the accomplishment I value and cherish the most is bringing my son into the world. The baby who I was told to “throw away” graduated from Harvard University and is a blessing to me and so many others. You see, my degrees and awards will fade, but the joy from my decision to have my son is eternal. He was not a life worth sacrificing. He was a life worth sacrificing for.

So, unlike Ms. Paxton, I have seen what your future can be because I lived it. Do not believe the deception that you have to dehumanize another in order to preserve your own humanity. Do not believe that the only way you will “matter” is if you exercise your rights at the expense of your baby’s right to life.

I have been you, but you haven’t been me…yet. By God’s grace, you will achieve your hopes and dreams, like I did, without regretting the choices you make along the way.
I believe in you. Fear not, because you are strong and can handle whatever life throws at you. Now go out there and love others, serve others, and do all the great things you aspire to do!

Praying for the best for you,
Yvette Lopez-Warren, M.D.

Yvette Lopez-Warren, M.D. is the wife of Care Net’s president and CEO, Roland Warren. To learn more about Roland and Yvette’s incredible story, click here.