Why Don’t I Ruin Our Graduation by Demanding More Dead Babies!

A pro-life fellow grad responds to the valedictorian who hijacked her commencement ceremony.

By Bunni Pounds Published on June 16, 2021

Ilona Bistrian graduated from Lake Highlands High School in December, 2020 at age 16. Though she wasn’t at the graduation ceremony in May, she had many friends there and was following the graduation weekend celebrations.

So, when Paxton Smith, the valedictorian, went off script at the graduation ceremony into a defiant speech against Texas’ new heartbeat bill, Ilona watched it. She felt the need to respond.

Paxton’s valedictory speech made national news being celebrated by the Boston Herald, Vogue, MSN/Newsweek, and others. The video of her speech went viral. She was dubbed a new hero” and lauded for “having guts.” 

Ilona Bistrian couldn’t let this speech go without a response.

The high school senior deceived her school administrators. She had agreed to give a speech they’d approved discussing media. Instead, she went off on abortion. Smith justified this, saying “[I]t feels wrong to talk about anything but what is currently affecting me and millions of other women in this state.”

She was talking about the new Texas Heartbeat bill.

The Texas Heartbeat Bill

A few weeks before, after a brutal fight in the Texas Legislature, Senate Bill 8 was signed into law by Governor Greg Abbott.

The bill makes it illegal for an individual in the state to kill a pre-born child once the baby’s heartbeat is detected. It was sponsored by Texas Senator Bryan Hughes (R-Tyler) and Representative Shelby Slawson (R-Stephenville). Texas Right to Life called the bill a “landmark victory” to protect the pre-born in Texas.

Texas has now joined the ranks of only 13 states who have already enacted similar heartbeat laws.

More than 56,600 young Texans got aborted in 2019, most of them in their first trimester of life.

The law states: 

A physician may not knowingly perform or induce an abortion on a pregnant woman if the physician detected a fetal heartbeat for the unborn child … or failed to perform a test to detect a fetal heartbeat.

The law lets private citizens sue abortion providers who kill children after a fetal heartbeat has been detected. Any citizen has standing to sue.

A Rant That Needs a Response

Paxton tried to strike fear into her fellow students’ hearts:

A decision that will affect the rest of their lives is made by a stranger. I have dreams and hopes and ambitions. Every girl graduating today does. And we have spent our entire lives working towards our future. And without our input and without our consent, our control over that future has been stripped away from us.

Ilona Bistrian couldn’t let this speech go without a response.

Ilona is a pro-life teen. She’s an ambitious writer (she just finished writing a fiction book on pro-life issues). Defending life is one of her passions because of her personal story. Ilona’s mom and dad had an unplanned pregnancy when they were young. But they chose life for Ilona. She loves her life, and wants to pay it forward. 

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Ilona was prepared for this moment. She wrote out her words, shared them with her father, Samuel Bistrian, CEO of Roma Boots whose story has previously been featured on The Stream. He then encouraged Ilona to share her response on Facebook.

Soon it was picked up by Christians Engaged, Live Action, and The Daily Wire.

This pro-life rebuttal from a conservative teenager should give us all hope for the future. There are many bold young people who are not afraid to speak up for life and liberty. The younger generation has warriors who will pick up the torch of truth and carry it.


Here is Ilona Bistrian’s response, which I hope everyone reads and shares:

A Teenager’s Pro-Life Response

“I hope you can feel how gut wrenching it is. I hope you can feel how dehumanizing it is, to have the autonomy over your own body taken from you.” These were the words of Paxton Smith, Lake Highlands High School Valedictorian, and my fellow schoolmate.

It is interesting, because at first glance I fully agreed with this statement. But on closer examination, when discovering that this statement is arguing in favor of one of the worst crimes and atrocities being committed upon mothers and their children, I was appalled!

In essence, her statement is true. There is nothing more dehumanizing than to have your personhood be stripped away from you and have your body mercilessly ripped apart while you are still alive, with no voice and no way to defend yourself. There is nothing more gut-wrenching than advocating for the exploitation of women’s bodies, the rape of their womb, and the profit that is produced from it.

Have we really allowed ourselves to become so blind? How can we tolerate the obliteration of the most vulnerable? How can we encourage the manipulation of the female mind?

However, my grievances do not end here. Paxton went on to say, “I have dreams and hopes and ambitions… I am terrified that if my contraceptives fail, I am terrified that if I am raped, then my hopes and aspirations and dreams and efforts for my future will no longer matter.”

Women: Incapable and Unworthy?

I am ashamed of Paxton’s denigrating view of the female capacity. To say that one must have an abortion to be able to accomplish their dreams is not only a slap in the face to the millions of women who have worked hard to overcome their obstacles as a mother, but it is degrading to women as a whole.

In the words of Mary Wollstonecraft, “Nature in everything deserves respect.” To assume that a woman does not have the strength nor capability to pursue her dreams while simultaneously caring for a child is saying that she is not worthy to accomplish that which is her nature. To bear forth another human life while still working and educating and striving is in the nature of a woman! To strip that away is to strip away her dignity. It teaches little girls to detest the way they were made, rather than embrace who she is and all that she can do. Moreover, to hide behind the strawman of the rape argument is demeaning to those who have been conceived through rape.

Does the circumstance of conception determine human worth now?

Are children who could not control the manner of how they were brought into existence subhuman and inferior to those who were conceived conventionally?

Are we to teach young women who have gone through this terrible trauma that they cannot succeed in life if they choose to keep their child?

Are we going to assume that abortion is the only solution, and be ignorant of adoption and the dozens of couples in line for every one baby?

Paxton Declares War on the Unborn

“I cannot give up this platform to promote complacency and peace, when there is a war on my body and a war on my rights. A war on the rights of your mothers, a war on the rights of your daughters. We cannot stay silent.” Paxton is right. There is a war on our bodies — our bodies, precious and strong vessels that were given the power to produce life. There is nothing more beautiful than to bring a new human into the world. There is nothing more empowering than to raise and influence the next generation of history makers. And that ability is being warred on, in an attempt to degrade it to nothing, to tear it down to the status of a disease. There is a war on our human rights. Or more specifically, the right to life. Life — the first, foundational right from where all rights stem from. If our inherent, inalienable right is taken away, then no other right exists. We can no longer be silent. We can no longer be complicit in this crime against humanity.

I am a young woman, a daughter, and one day I will be a mother. And being a member of the female community, I am in full support of protecting our most basic right. I am in full support of protecting the most vulnerable. I am in full support of the Texas Heartbeat Bill, and any future law that is passed to protect the human in the womb. Because at the end of the day, we are all human. And by virtue of being human, we are all entitled — born or preborn — to dignity, respect, and to life.


Ilona Bistrian is on TikTok (@ilonabistrian) creating videos about her love for America and has gathered quite a following — 20,000 followers and 837,000 views.

Bunni Pounds is president of Christians Engaged. She is a former congressional candidate, 15-year political consultant and motivational speaker.

NOTE: On Wednesday, the IRS denied Christians Engaged tax-exempt status because although the group encourages church members to pray for leaders of both parties, the biblical principles the organization pushes are “typically affiliated” with the Republican party and Republican candidates. First Liberty Institute is appealing the decision. 

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