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La Jolla High School students stage walkout in support of abortion rights

About 250 La Jolla High School students protested against potential abortion bans May 19.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

About 250 students leave classes to protest a potential Supreme Court overturn of the 1973 Roe vs Wade decision.

To protest a potential U.S. Supreme Court overturn of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that essentially legalized abortion nationwide, about 250 students walked out of class at La Jolla High School on May 19.

The walkout was organized by Jaime Shafer, 17, a junior who encouraged fellow students to gather in the school quad and then exit the campus to Nautilus Street, holding signs to spread awareness of their support of abortion rights.

A draft opinion leaked earlier this month indicated the apparent intention of a majority of Supreme Court justices to overturn Roe v. Wade, which created a constitutional right to abortion.

The walkout began at 2:30 p.m., crowding the sidewalks at Nautilus and Fay Avenue with students waving signs expressing pro-choice sentiments and chanting phrases like “My body, my choice.”

Some motorists honked their horns in support as they drove by, eliciting cheers from the protesters.

La Jolla High Principal Chuck Podhorsky said in a statement to the La Jolla Light that “we respect and support the right of our students to advocate for causes that are important to them and welcome the opportunity to work with any student or student group to discuss appropriate and creative ways to do so while at school.”

Junior Jaime Shafer, 17, organized the May 19 student walkout at La Jolla High School.
Junior Jaime Shafer, 17, organized the May 19 student walkout at La Jolla High School.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Jaime, who is transgender, said abortion rights are important to him because “I believe that everyone deserves the right to bodily autonomy, that everyone gets to choose their life and what they want for themselves.”

“Freedom includes being able to choose for yourself and not the state being able to choose for you,” he added.

Senior Leah Hoppner, 18, said “reproductive rights are important. A lot of girls in my grade have had to get abortions, a lot of them will have to get abortions. I might have to get one in the future.”

Jaime said he was inspired to organize the walkout after attending a May 5 protest in downtown San Diego. “I thought I could also step up and do something,” he said.

“Considering I’m still in school, the most effective thing that could happen was doing a walkout and get students engaged,” Jaime added.

The protest lasted about an hour while three San Diego Unified School District police officers stood watch to ensure student safety at the intersection, which was busy with drivers picking up students from La Jolla High and Muirlands Middle schools when school let out at 3:15.

“It’s a lot more people than I expected,” Jaime said. ◆