A group of about 160 students walked out of class at Wellesley High School last week to call for the support of reproductive rights in wake of the recent Supreme Court draft opinion that would strike down Roe vs. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that affirmed the legality of a woman’s right to have an abortion. The final opinion on the case could be published as early as this month.
WHS student Skye Jacobs, one of the organizers of the protest and a Town Meeting member, along with students Lila Malek and Hannah Merritt, in an email said in addition to protesting the possible overturn of Roe vs. Wade, they wanted to demonstrate support for two abortion-related bills currently in the Massachusetts State legislature—An Act to Ensure Full-Spectrum Pregnancy Care, which would require that all Massachusetts-regulated health plans “cover the full spectrum of pregnancy-related care, including abortion care, prenatal care, childbirth, postpartum care, etc., without any cost-sharing or copays,” and An Act to Require Public Universities to Provide Medication Abortion to ensure access to what’s commonly referred to as the abortion pill or the morning-after pill.
Merritt in an email said, “Although we might not have the power to affect Supreme Court decisions, we can help to ensure that everyone in Massachusetts, regardless of race or class, will be treated as more than just
property. We can help to turn the bills that would offer women access to critically important health care–both for abortion and pregnancy–into the laws that ensure women their rights and safety.”
State Representative Alice Peisch attended the protest. “When organizers contacted me, I thought it was important to show support by being present as these high school students voiced their views,” she said.
Teachers and administrators did not directly join the protest, but a few watched from the nearby parking lot.
Although no counter-protesters attended, Jacobs said that students were urged not to attend the walkout via a social media post that appeared the day before the event. Despite that pushback, which organizers concede impacted their morale at first, they say they were happy with the turnout, and that another of their goals was achieved. “We wanted to encourage students to participate in the democratic process, and make their voices heard.”
After organizers spoke to the assembled crowd, students returned to their classes.