Education

More than a hundred students at Waggener High School marched out of class Thursday morning in protest of the draft U.S. Supreme Court decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade and end federal protections for the right to an abortion.

The protest is the latest in a string of student demonstrations in Louisville and nationwide over the leaked draft of the decision.

Junior Lauren Nelson and senior Armelle Bondonga were in the crowd with signs protesting abortion restrictions. Nelson said she feels the country is moving backward when it comes to women’s rights.

“Women are no less than men, and that’s what they’re trying to do: they’re trying to take control of us,” Nelson said.

“We should dictate what we want to do with our own bodies,” Bondonga said. “We don’t need the government putting regulations or restrictions within ourselves because the government doesn’t know our own bodies the way we know ourselves.”

Four Waggener students holding their protest signs and posing for the camera.Jess Clark | wfpl.org

Waggener High School students Armelle Bondonga, Lauren Nelson, Aalayla Malone and Saniya Martin were part of the protest Thursday.

Kentucky is one of 13 states with “trigger laws,” meaning lawmakers have poised the state to ban abortion as soon as the highest court ends federal protections. Another 13 states have blocked laws on the books that would ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned.

Kai Burress, a 17 year-old, carried a sign with a message for Supreme Court justices and politicians who want to restrict abortion rights: “Keep your laws off our bodies!”

Burress pointed out that most of the people making these decisions to restrict abortion are cisgender men who don’t have uteruses!”

“This is not fair to people with uteruses. We should choose!” he said.

Burress, who does have a uterus, worries about the impact abortion restrictions could have on his own life, especially when it comes to access to emergency contraception like Plan B.

Students marched for about 20 minutes under the supervision of staff members. Some students said they wanted to march longer, but were directed to return to class. 

“At the conclusion of the 19 minute and 73 second demonstration (symbolic of the 1973 Roe v. Wade [decision]), all students returned to 4th period classes, and no students will face disciplinary measures for participating in the event,” JCPS spokesperson Carolyn Callahan wrote in an email to WFPL.

A few students said staff confiscated signs that were deemed inappropriate, including one that read “who made you the coochie boss?”

“The real inappropriate thing is taking away our rights,” one student said.

Callahan said the “few” confiscated signs “contained profanity or vulgarity, which violate our district’s Student Support and Behavior Intervention Handbook.”

“Students must follow these expectations even during demonstrations of free speech while on campus,” Callahan wrote.

The demonstration follows similar protests at duPont Manual High School, Ballard High School and Atherton High School last week.

Support for this story was provided in part by the Jewish Heritage Fund.

Jess Clark is WFPL's Education and Learning Reporter.