Students organize march, walkouts across Virginia in support of abortion access

Published: May. 9, 2022 at 10:47 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - More than 40 schools across the commonwealth and the Valley participated in school walkouts on Monday as part of the Statewide Student Day of Action for Abortion Access, organized by Generation Ratify Virginia.

This action comes after last week’s leak of the Supreme Court’s draft opinion to overturn Roe v. Wade.

Around the Shenandoah Valley, students from Turner Ashby and Eastern Mennonite high schools walked out and at James Madison University, dozens marched from the quad to Harrisonburg City Hall just days before the spring semester wraps up.

“People have been fighting for this for decades, and it’s sad that we have to keep doing it, but we will until it’s right,” Lexi Goltry, a sophomore at JMU said. “Keep bans off our bodies. It’s a woman’s right to choose.”

“Making sure that my rights are supported and sustained for the rest of my life and for my future children’s lives is way more important to me than that final will ever be,” Abby Dotson, a freshman at JMU who helped organize Monday’s march, said.

Sixteen-year-old Abby Garber is the state director for Generation Ratify Virginia and a student at Eastern Mennonite High School. She said over the past few days, she has been organizing the walkouts that happened across the state from her bedroom.

“We want to show that Gen Z will not become the post-Roe generation and that Gen Z supports abortion access,” Garber said. “We held walkouts to demonstrate just how large that support is and just how much Gen Z cares about this issue and what we are going to do to ensure that we continue to have statewide abortion access.”

Garber said that 20 of her classmates at Eastern Mennonite High School walked out together during lunch on Monday.

“We wanted to bring the protest to [students] and we wanted them to be the leaders because it’s time for youth to lead,” Garber said. “We’re the next generation.”

Other speakers urged people to reach out to local lawmakers, register to vote, or even run for office themselves.

“Seeing everybody here makes me really hopeful that that message was received and also the message of inclusion that abortion rights don’t only affect cis-gender females,” Dotson said. “In this country, they affect everyone.”

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