‘Post Roe? Hell no!’ P-CEP students walkout in support of abortion rights


RJ Doroshewitz

P-CCS students chant the phrase “Pro-life is a lie; they don’t care if people die,” while gathered on the East Turf Stadium near Canton High School. May 12, 2022.

A large number of Plymouth-Canton Educational Park (P-CEP) students participated in a walkout on May 12, 2022, in support of abortion rights as a part of a larger national movement.

This article won a 2023 Michigan Interscholastic Press Association (MIPA) honorable mention award for Breaking News Coverage.

The walkout, unapproved by the Plymouth-Canton Community Schools (P-CCS) district, began at 1:00 p.m. Students left their classes and gathered in-between school buildings before moving as a group to the East Turf Stadium near Canton High School. 

According to administration, for a student protest to be officially approved, it must be initiated by a school-approved organization and sanctioned by the administration, and must center on an issue that directly affects the educational school day. Previous on-campus protests, such as a walkout to protest racism and a walkout to protest gun violence had been sanctioned by P-CEP administration. 

Before the walkout began, an announcement was made over the loudspeakers, stating that all students who walked out would receive an absence for their fifth period class. 

The protest was conducted in response to a draft opinion ruling on the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization case leaked by Politico on May 3, written by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.

If the draft opinion represents the final opinion accepted by the court, the landmark case Roe v. Wade (1973), which first granted national protections for abortion rights on the basis of individual privacy, would be overturned in its entirety. If that situation occurs, each state would revert to a state-level law.

P-CCS students enter the East Turf Stadium for an unsanctioned protest in support of abortion rights near Canton High School. May 12, 2022. (RJ Doroshewitz)

In Michigan, a law passed in 1931 but currently nullified by the decision in Roe v. Wade, would once again take effect and designate all non-medically necessary abortions within the state of Michigan as a felony. 

Despite the law, however, it is unclear what the future of abortion in a post-Roe Michigan would look like. 

Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) has filed a lawsuit with the Michigan Supreme Court, which currently consists of four Democrats and three Republicans, asking the court to recognize the right to an abortion under the due process and equal Protection clause of the Michigan Consitution.

Attorney General Dana Nessel has said she and her office would not enforce the law criminalizing abortion, however, the law still could be enforced by county prosecutors. 

In addition, a petition is currently circulating, which, if enough signatures are gathered, would introduce a ballot measure to enshrine abortion rights in the Michigan constitution. The Republican-led state legislature is not expected to vote to repeal the 1931 law. 

Security and administration were present at the gate of the stadium and on the football field to ensure the safety of the people present before and during the walkout, and did not attempt to stop students from attending.

Once on the field, students congregated in groups and began holding handwritten signs depicting popular pro-choice saying, while chanting similar phrases such as “Pro-life isn’t life,” “My body, my choice,” and “Pro-life is a lie; they don’t care if people die.” 

Cassidy Boon, Plymouth junior, holds a sign with the phrase “My body, my choice” in the East Turf Stadium. May 12, 2022. (RJ Doroshewitz)

A number of counter-protesters also attended, and a few were holding a sign with the slogan “Abortion is murder” on it. The sign was quickly taken by another student who was angry at the presence of the counter-protesters, while a third person ripped the sign apart. 

“It said ‘Abortion is Murder.’ My friends and I saw ‘Murder,’ and thought, ‘What the hell is that?’” said one P-CEP student, while speaking on the condition of anonymity. “Some girl grabbed it out of his hands, and I ripped it.” 

“I saw the guy; he had a banner, and it was messed up. This is a pro-choice rally; you don’t protest against someone’s rights,” added another anonymous protester. 

For the most part, however, the protest was peaceful.

“My body, my choice,” said Anna Rivera, Plymouth senior. “You don’t have the right to tell me what to do with my own body.”