Stanford Planned Parenthood took to White Plaza on Tuesday to rally against the Supreme Court’s leaked draft decision overturning Roe v. Wade. About 200 students showed up in support of Planned Parenthood. Nearby, a separate group of about eight students prayed in support of pro-life ideology.
The demonstrations came after Politico leaked a draft decision on Monday evening indicating that the Court will soon overturn Roe. Beyond its protection of abortion rights, Roe is fundamental to US constitutional law — its precedent regarding the right to privacy gave way for other milestone protections, including the legalization of same-sex marriage.
Law students also demonstrated against the draft decision on Tuesday. Stanford students on both sides of the issue drew in chalk on campus streets, while others took to Fizz, a popular anonymous forum app, to share their reactions.
“Coming to Stanford there’s this assumption that everyone around here is liberal and open-minded. And last night I was hearing that a lot of chalk was put around that said ‘abortion is murder’ and that sort of stuff,” said Ella Booker ’23, a leader of Stanford Planned Parenthood. “I think regardless of what you personally believe, it’s really a question of do you believe that people have the right to make decisions about their own body?”
Student organizers from Stanford’s Planned Parenthood Generation Action, which was founded in 2017, belong to a network of more than 350 chapters nationwide fighting for reproductive freedom.
Booker said that Planned Parenthood co-presidents Hiran Dewar ’23 and Grace Scullion ’22 mobilized to plan a demonstration following the news of the leaked decision with a “heightened sense of urgency.”
“This isn’t going to stop abortions. It’s just going to stop safe, legal abortions. As we’ve seen, the trend rates of abortions over the decades have remained fairly the same, regardless of what the policy is. I think what’s most concerning to me is that this is just going to affect the people that are already marginalized even more,” said Booker.
If the Court officially overturns Roe, about half of U.S. states are poised to severely restrict or ban abortion. Women of color and low-income women are most likely to be impacted by such restrictions.
“Organizations like Planned Parenthood are incredible resources for people. For everything beyond abortions — like pap smears, cancer screenings and basic checkups. So doing away with this right has significant ramifications for healthcare and beyond,” Booker added.
Miriam Haart ’22, a student from Monsey, New York who attended the rally, reiterated these concerns while recalling her experience of having been raised in the largest ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in the United States. She described Monsey as “oppressive” when it comes to abortion and said she feels that her “rights are being taken away” again in light of the Court’s draft.
Haart emphasized the importance of taking a stance and being vocal, reminding people that there is still time until a final decision is made. The Court is expected to take at least a month before it issues an official decision.
Ritwik Tati ’25, who is a Stanford community advocate and organizing director of Generation Ratify, an organization dedicated to enshrining gender equality in the Constitution, shared the moment he learned about the draft decision. Tati was on a call with Generation Ratify.
“We already knew that Roe was going to get overturned. It was pretty likely, but it still was a shock,” Tati said. “Being on like a Zoom call with a bunch of other people, you could see their faces change. And even though abortion is something that doesn’t affect me directly, it affects people that I love. And it was just really disheartening to see that.” Tati has previously written for The Daily’s news section.
“Stanford students have immense wealth and privilege in general,” Tati added. He shared that students can and should get involved in Planned Parenthood and Title IX on campus if they want to learn about reproductive and women’s rights.
For people like Booker, the atmosphere of unity at the rally signified that the work to defend reproductive freedoms is just beginning.
A couple of hours after the rally began, a group of Christian students gathered nearby to pray in support of pro-life ideology. They silently prayed just a few feet away from the rally.
Jack MacKinnon ’23 said he felt a need to respond to the rally, referring to “a moral imperative for us to pray for the lives of the unborn and pray for those mothers who are seeking to obtain an abortion.”
Crystal Chidume ’23 shared that she decided to join the prayer group to increase the visibility of women of color who support the pro-life movement on campus.
“I do want to stand as a representation for women of color who are pro-life, which there aren’t many of us, but we do exist,” Chidume said.
The group emphasized that they were not there in opposition to women, but rather that they were praying “out of love for the unborn, out of love for women,” according to Rhiannon O’Keefe ’25.
When asked about her response to the group of praying students, Haart said, “You can believe what you want to believe but that shouldn’t be enforced on me and that shouldn’t be enforced on people. And that’s what this is really about: letting each of us have our own decisions about our own bodies.”
Booker and Haart added that Planned Parenthood will be sponsoring another protest this Friday at 11 a.m. in White Plaza.
“All of us have this fear that our freedom is being taken away from us,” Haart said. “That’s why we’re here. We’re here to make noise. We’re here to be loud. We’re here to be heard.”