Students’ Response to the Overturning of Roe v. Wade

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Following the overturning of Roe v. Wade on June 22, 10 states immediately reverted their laws to a complete prohibition of abortion. Stuyvesant students commented on their reaction to and thoughts on this historic overturning.

A large percentage of students have expressed disappointment toward the Supreme Court ruling. “This is a huge attack on a gigantic portion of our nation’s rights. Obviously, this doesn’t just concern abortion,” junior Daria Minhas said. “This concerns birth control. This concerns other forms of contraception.”

Many students’ reactions include anger mixed with fear and disappointment. “I’m incredibly angry and so, so sad that this has happened. I feel like our generation has gotten to watch every single bit of progress that’s happened over the last 50 years be completely dismantled and laughed at, and this has been yet another injustice to add to the growing stack,” junior Anna Kathawala said in an e-mail interview.

Junior Lianne Ohayon added on, “I think it’s just a complete disregard for bodily autonomy and the right for us to control our bodies. And it’s really scary when you have a country that can’t protect those ideals.”

Students also recognize the implications that this decision makes for other previous court decisions. “I think this is just a gateway into turning around same-sex marrige or interracial marriage and those issues and it’s really really scary,” junior Isabella Chow said.

Students acknowledged the privilege of living in New York, a state that generally protects the right to abortion. “I think we’re very lucky to live in NY, especially because our current governor, Kathy Hochul, has pledged to keep women safe from abortion bans, and she ran on that as one of her main campaign promises for this upcoming election. Abortion safety definitely isn’t secured, but we are in a much safer position than others,” Kathawala said.

Some students are pro-choice, but also support the Supreme Court ruling because they believe that states know what is best for their people. “It shouldn’t be up to the Supreme Court to be making this decision. It is the Supreme Court’s duty to interpret laws, and it is up to Congress and the representative bodies to produce laws and pass laws,” junior Sayeb Khan said. “I think people in the state know what’s best for the state, so whatever the people in the state vote for should be what gets passed.”

Khan also used former Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who was known as a very progressive justice, to illustrate the difference between his personal views on abortion and the legal decision made. “If you look at even Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she was a very pro-choice Supreme Court justice, but she thought that Roe v. Wade was a very poor legal decision [that] is separate from her own personal beliefs,” he said.

Junior and President of the Patriots club Jackson Mushnick also agrees that the overturning of Roe v. Wade was justified under the Constitution, but critiques the conservative responses that he has been seeing. “There [are] a lot of social programs that [conservatives] are not willing to adopt because of their own economic ideologies that would allow these people to build families and be able to support a pregnancy,” he explained.

Multiple students have seen this ruling as something that has undermined trust in the Supreme Court. “The legitimacy of the court has just totally shattered with this, because they are overturning a precedent from 50 years ago, because they got political,” senior Nour Kastoun said.

Freshman Reem Khalifa believes this case highlights the reforms needed in the Supreme Court, especially since the nine judges get to serve their role for their entire lifetime. “[The Supreme Court] is not going to provide us change or satisfaction in the next few years unless one of [the judges] either passes away or resigns. I do think [the Supreme Court] should be expanded because I personally wouldn’t want nine people in control of my body, or the things I can do or say, or how I live my daily life. And I do think there should be term limits,” Khalifa said.

Despite not being of age to vote, some students have found ways to take action. “Originally for our Dave & Busters fundraiser, our original charity was Pencils & Promise which basically goes to expanding access to education, which is also a really amazing cause and everything, but with the news, I initially felt so powerless that there was nothing I could do at all,” junior and President of Key Club Isabella Chow said. “[Now the funds are] all going to the national network of abortion funds which connects over 90 different smaller funds of charities, most of which goes to high impact communities, such as indigenous communities, black communities, low-income neighborhoods, going to support clinics or covering transportation costs.”

To show support for those affected, many students have been reposting infographics and social media posts surrounding the issue. However, Khalifa believes that sharing information online can be very tricky, and people should take caution whenever reposting information on social media. “Sometimes there’s a lot of misinformation being spread. Like one thing I saw was someone posting the addresses of the SCOTUS on TikTok and also their credit card information, which obviously isn’t gonna do anything because [the SCOTUS] are protected by a lot. I guess it’s good, but it doesn’t really do anything. The most you can really do is donate, when you have the means.” So far, she and her friends have organized a bake sale afterschool, and they were able to donate over $1,000 to the National Network of Abortion Funds.

Beyond fundraisers, many students such as Kastoun, Minhas, and junior Lea Esipov have responded to the ruling by participating in the recent protests. Kastoun described her experience at the Washington Square Park protest on June 24: “It was awesome in that so many people of all genders [were] there. Everyone was really pissed. We all wanted to do something. There was definitely that sense of unity, of like, this is a huge movement, of hope that they accomplished something, of hope that legislators get their [EXPLETIVE] together.”

Minhas described their personal involvement in the protest alongside Esipov, emphasizing that anyone has the power to spur a movement. “I noticed that when half the crowd wasn’t too loud, and wasn't getting all riled up, I decided to worm my way through the crowd, climb up on a fountain, and just start to make some noise,” Minhas said. “I had a lot of people coming up to Lea [and I] afterward, asking us what organization we were part of or like how else people could get more involved or come to future events. [...] I just think it goes to show that we don’t really need an organization to be doing this kind of stuff.”

Multiple students had suggestions as to how Stuyvesant students should respond to Roe v. Wade being overturned. “Stuy students need to really take this to heart and protest as much as they can. I’ve seen a ton of people posting infographics and other information on social media about the issue, but I think every student should get to a protest and write to their elected officials as well to really demonstrate solidarity and commitment,” Kathawala said.

Esipov listed additional ways for students to show that they care about the issue. “Definitely donate if [you] have the means to but donate cautiously, and donate knowledgably, and donate proportionally more to groups led by people of color because they are going to be disproportionately affected by this ban on abortion,” they said. “Also, clinic defense is important because in New York City, right now [...] in the center of Manhattan, there are massive marches of Catholic people to Planned Parenthood to harass people going into this clinic. [...] As teenagers with our own will and our own desire to protect abortion, we need to be out there at those clinic defenses.”

Ohayon thinks that it is vital for school communities to provide education and discussion after this momentous ruling. “I think we need to provide quick equipment or information and support,” she said. Ohayon praises the free contraceptives and health education at Stuyvesant, but believes this case should also be discussed in all social studies classes. “I think, again, facilitating these open conversations is really important. [...] I feel like a lot of times we can get snippets of information, [from] different news outlets, some news outlets that radicalize information that make it really skewed, and [instead, we should] understand the full scope of who’s going to be impacted the most, how can we support things, making sure that people are aware of everything that we need to know.”

In a similar vein, Mushnick believes in the importance of having civil discussions in classrooms and other settings. “I don’t think it's the job of teachers to necessarily force one political view over another. I think they should be conduits for rich discovery for open discussion. Some great teachers, as I’ve said, their classes are all about kids expressing their views [and] being able to really talk without fear,” said Mushnick.

Chow encourages students to do what they can if they are passionate about the cause. “Going beyond the Instagram reposts, going and learning about information, what you can do, signing petitions, being informed, being well educated, learning about what little steps you can take. I know that there are a lot of volunteering organizations so for example, escorting people from clinics,” Chow said. “It’s really whatever you feel comfortable with, but make sure to show your support now, especially when support is really really needed and show legislators and politicians that there is a rallying support of abortions and being pro-choice.”