High schoolers stage walk-out in support of abortion rights

-Messenger photo by Britt Kudla
Kaitlyn Ashenfelter, 17, of Fort Dodge, along with her sister Ashley Ashenfelter (left) protest the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion at the Webster County Courthouse on Friday.

They can’t even vote yet, but they’re not too young to stand up for their rights and what they believe in.

A group of about 30 Fort Dodge Senior High students walked out of the front doors of the school after second period on Friday, primed to organize and march to the Webster County Courthouse in protest against the leaked United States Supreme Court opinion that would effectively overturn Roe v. Wade and federal abortion rights for women.

The landmark Roe v. Wade decision that guaranteed federal constitutional protections of abortion rights has been the law of the land for nearly 50 years. A draft of a majority opinion written by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito on a case currently being heard by the court was leaked on May 2, and later verified by the court on May 3, states that “It is time to heed the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives.”

Activists across the nation have voiced their outrage at the potential ruling and its possible effects.

“I’ve seen so many people taking to the streets, protesting for their rights and actually doing something,” said organizer Gio Aviles, 15. “I wanted to do something and this is something I wanted to do.”

-Messenger photo by Britt Kudla
Gio Aviles of Fort Dodge (15 years old) gives a passionate speech to rally up the crowd protesting the Supreme Courts leaked draft overturning Roe V. Wade at the Fort Dodge Court house on Friday

Aviles, a sophomore, spent the week spreading the word about the walk-out and protest.

“I went around and told people what the cause was, what I was doing,” she said. “I went on social media to give it more attention.”

And with a couple dozen classmates, Aviles spent the remainder of the day in front of the courthouse holding up signs in support of abortion rights.

“I’ve got all these amazing people out here fighting for our rights,” she said. “A lot of people who have driven by have been really supportive. There have been a few that weren’t, but everybody has their own opinion.”

Aviles also organized a couple friends to drive their cars downtown with water for the protesters in the 80-degree heat.

-Messenger photo by Britt Kudla
A group of Fort Dodge Senior High students march down Central Avenue after staging a walk-out at the school to protest in support of abortion rights on Friday.

Aviles said abortion rights are important to her because she understands why some women choose abortion. She has a family member who has had an abortion in the past.

“She wasn’t able to support four kids plus the baby she was going to have, and I completely support her decision and I’m glad she got to make the choice herself,” she said.

She also wants to be able to make the choice for herself if ever faced with a similar situation.

“A lot of people are against what we’re doing, and we understand that, but I hope they can find it in their hearts to support us either way because we are fighting for something we believe in, just like they would,” Aviles said.

“Just because we have different opinions doesn’t mean we have to hate each other,” said FDSH junior Kaitlyn Ashenfelter, 17, a fellow protester. “Everyone deserves respect.”

-Messenger photo by Britt Kudla
Cassandra Peterson, 16, of Fort Dodge, protests against the Supreme Court leaked draft over turning Roe v. Wade at the Webster County Courthouse on Friday.

-Messenger photo by Britt Kudla
Bex McGuire, 16, of Fort Dodge, protests against the Supreme Court leaked draft over turning Roe v. Wade at the Webster County Courthouse on Friday.

-Messenger photo by Britt Kudla
Fort Dodge Vanna Wirhus (17) (top) and Sol Birkey (16) protest against the Supreme Court’s leaked draft to overturn Roe v. Wade at the Webster County Courthouse on Friday.


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