WAHS Walks Out for Abortion Rights


WAHS students constructed and decorated signs on short notice in preparation for their protest. Picture courtesy of Mika Chaturvedi

Jack Tueting, Assistant Editor

Numerous WAHS students walked out of school on May 9th in protest of a leaked draft of the United State Supreme Court’s decision in the case Dobbs v. Jackson. The leaked draft outlined a 5 to 4 majority of the court explicitly striking down the landmark 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade, which for decades had mandated that states allow women to access abortion under the Constitution’s implied right to privacy. The leak, which is still unofficial, provoked an outcry among proponents of women’s rights, and jubilation among many anti-abortion conservatives. 

Sophomore Eli Hughes, who organized the walkout, said the goal was not to change the ruling, but rather to inspire legislation to work around it. “We can’t change what the court said, but we can support the passing of legislation by Virginia legislators now that abortion has become a state-by-state right.”

The end of Roe v. Wade would be one of the most important court reversals in decades, and this fact was not lost among WAHS students. While the right to privacy is not ensured in the constitution explicitly, Supreme Court precedent in the 1965 case Griswold v. Connecticut established that the right was implied as a result of interpretations of other rights in the constitution. Hughes argues that an attack on Roe threatens all other privacy-based rights.

When you say that one case that’s derived from privacy is illegitimate, invalid, and incorrect, then you’re essentially throwing under the bus all other cases regarding the right to privacy,” Hughes said in a statement. “That includes things like gay marriage, contraception, and sodomy laws. That’s really dangerous for a variety of reasons, but the gist of it is that it’s not just abortion that’s being attacked here.”

The walkout lasted for only 13 minutes, from 2:30 to 2:43, during which students congregated in front of the main entrance to the school. Many held signs, and chanted in favor of women’s rights. In an email to parents, Principal Jennifer Sublette reiterated WAHS’ commitment to respecting safe student speech.

“We took appropriate steps to ensure that students were able to safely communicate their views without causing a disruption or creating an unsafe environment for themselves or for others.” 

At the conclusion of the protest, students returned to their classes without notable disruptions.