UT Students Walk Out in Support of Reproductive and Trans Rights
By Samantha Eisenmenger
University of Texas students walked out of their classrooms Thursday to join a nationwide peaceful protest for reproductive rights and trans rights after the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade in June.
Over 100 students marched to the West Mall as part of the National Day of Student Action.
“We must understand that this is about cruelty, not only to trans bodies, but about anybody that has the ability to get pregnant,” said Gin Pham, communications and outreach manager of Trans Texas.
Pham described an “uptick in crisis calls” related to abortion access once the Roe v. Wade decision protecting a right to abortion was overturned last summer. “We are talking about not only my bodily autonomy, but the bodily autonomy of all Texans.”
The UT event was organized by the UT law school student group If/When/How in collaboration with Graduate Student Action Network.
According to news reports, the Graduate Student Action Network organized walkouts at about 50 universities in 25 states, including the University of Nebraska, the University of Arkansas, West Virginia University, the City University of New York and New York University.
“It’s incredibly exciting,” said UT student Maya Mackey. “I think we had an excellent turnout. Just seeing the range of speakers and organizations that we come from and all of the backgrounds is incredibly inspiring. Reproductive justice is such an intersectional issue, all of the perspectives here today.”
Among the speakers was Sarah Lopez from Jane’s Due Process, a nonprofit that helps young Texans get abortion care. Lopez said she wanted to destigmatize the topic by openly discussing her own abortion experience, which she said left her with feelings of both relief and shame.
“There are laws designed to make me feel ashamed,” she said. “And not just that, but what I experienced was just a fraction of what young people, Black folks, low-income folks, marginalized communities experience.”
Rally organizers called for the University of Texas to support student reproductive health care through expansion of services related to sex education, contraception, emergency contraception offered through vending machines and increased mental health care with a focus on reproductive health.
A university spokesman said, “University Health Services offers a variety of reproductive healthcare services for students such as annual wellness exams and education, pregnancy testing and information on contraceptives and pregnancy prevention. UHS does not dispense abortive medications, provide abortion services or obstetrical/prenatal services.”
The spokesman directed people to go to healthyhorns.utexas.edu to learn more about the care provided by University Health Services.