Students react to the potential overturning of Roe v. Wade

A leaked draft opinion in a Supreme Court abortion case has dominated national discourse


Breanna Laws

Students wrote messages in chalk on Hearn Plaza supporting abortion rights.

Aine Pierre, Online Managing Editor

On Monday, May 2, POLITICO released a draft majority opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court that would overrule Roe v. Wade (1973) and Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey (1992), two landmark cases that limited the ability of the government — state or federal — to ban abortions.

At noon on Friday, May 6, a group of students wrote chalk messages on Hearn Plaza opposing the overturn of Roe and Casey

“During the rally on the Quad, we had constructive conversations, and I’m glad that the Wake Forest students and faculty we came into contact with were open-minded enough to learn more on a complicated issue,” freshman Evelyn Corbett, who attended the event, said.

Throughout the spring semester, rising senior Ashleigh Ekwenugo worked with Birds, Bees and Babies, a Winston-Salem-based, full-spectrum doula organization that advocates for reproductive justice. She called the draft opinion “horrific” and noted that the ruling will disproportionately affect people of color.

“It’s an absolute disregard to birthing people’s sometimes traumatic experiences with birth and their bodily autonomy,” Ekwenugo said of the draft opinion. “It’s even scarier for Black birthing people and other birthing people of color, who already have less bodily autonomy than white women and who are doubly criminalized and racially prosecuted for pregnancy loss.”

Freshman Emma Johnson, Co-President of the Wake Forest chapter of Students for Life, an anti-abortion organization, said the draft opinion gave her hope.

“The goals of Wake Forests’ pro-life students have always been to support women and their unborn children,” Johnson said. “We see this as a potential step in the right direction and hope that the court’s ruling will be a step forward in protecting the unborn.”

Rising junior Skylar Dailey also applauded the draft decision.

​​”As a proponent of the pro-life movement, I view the decision as a major victory for the unborn children whose lives will now be spared,” Dailey said. “Simultaneously, my heart breaks at how divisive this issue is and how struggling mothers with unplanned pregnancies believe that their only viable solution — to take the life of their child — is being taken away.”

Dailey also offered constructive criticism for those who advocate against abortion in the public and private sphere. 

“Having studied the pro-life movement in depth for several years, I can say that the major deficit in pro-life discourse is not providing comprehensive support for the mother of unplanned pregnancies and making sure that the adoption system is an accessible and safe option for her,” Dailey said. “To me, putting the mother and child first are not mutually exclusive pursuits. We must put efforts to provide sufficient help to the mother to either provide for her child herself or put the child in an environment conducive to their upbringing at the vanguard of the pro-life movement. The pro-life movement is not merely for supporting the life of the child, but also that of the mother.”

 Note: The above podcast was recorded before the draft decision was leaked.


Corbett, for their part, expressed deep concern about the draft opinion.

“Even the possibility of Roe v. Wade being overturned is a threat to our reproductive rights,” Corbett said. “A lot of people assume that abortion is something that happens willy-nilly when in reality, it is extremely difficult and expensive to get one and it is reserved for last resort scenarios in healthcare practices. Roe v. Wade is not a free-for-all on abortions, but a first step in creating laws around safe abortion and healthy relationships with reproductive rights and sex education.”

The Supreme Court will likely release its final opinion in June. 

Editor’s Note: Class years in this article are based on the 2021-2022 Academic Year.