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Letter: Student demonstrations were self-initiated

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Student demonstrations were self-initiated

On May 2, a leaked majority draft opinion revealed the Supreme Court’s intent to overturn the precedents set in Roe v. Wade, removing the federally protected right to a safe abortion. This motivated countless demonstrations nationally, including ours. We organized over 5,500 Virginian students to walk out of school on May 9 in support of their abortion rights.

Witnessing the outrage from our peers on social media cemented the idea that youth need their voices heard in abortion rights conversations. To do so, a coordinated action that would amplify our demands of protecting abortion access and centering youth in the movement was required. Thus, our organizing of statewide walkouts began.

The demonstrations were self-initiated as students fully understand how overturning Roe would limit our bodily autonomy.

The Virginia Code demonstrates confidence in teens taking responsibility for their reproductive health, as minors can independently consent to sensitive health care services, including contraceptive implants, STI care, and delivery procedures. If students can consent to these procedures, certainly we can formulate opinions about abortion rights.

For students, school discipline was a significant concern when walking out. However, Tinker v. Des Moines established that students don’t shed their First Amendment rights when entering school, presuming they don’t substantially interfere with school operations. As such, the majority of our demonstrations were school administration approved and occurred during noninstructional times.

Despite Roe’s foreseeable overturning, students will continue to advocate at the state level to ensure the codification of our right to an abortion in the Virginia Constitution. As future voters and current leaders, we call on the Virginia democratic leaders to make the protection of reproductive rights a priority in the 2023 session. We refuse to be the Post-Roe generation.

It’s our bodies, our freedoms and our future.

Elizabeth Brubaker

Generation Ratify Virginia

Charlottesville

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