On May 2, a draft opinion by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito was leaked, revealing that the landmark decision of Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion across the country, could be overturned. As a result, pro-choice protests erupted across the land with many declaring their support for abortion rights.
One of those protests was led by Mehr Tarafdar, a Skyline High School student. Tarafdar organized a school walkout to support abortion rights on May 27.
Tarafdar, 14, is a freshman at Skyline. Before she had even considered planning a walkout, she was going to attend a different pro-choice walkout on May 19. Abortion rights are extremely important to Tarafdar, so she decided to go. However, the walkout was so poorly planned that Tarafdar and her friends could not even figure out the location.
Tarafdar jokingly suggested that she should plan a walkout herself, and her friends encouraged her to actually do it. Although it was an impromptu decision, she quickly launched into action and began organizing.
“If no one else was going to do it, I should just take it into my own hands,” Tarafdar said.
Over the next several days, Tarafdar and four of her friends prepared for the event. They made posters at Sammamish Library after school. On Friday morning, the day of the walkout, Tarafdar passed out approximately 200 flyers in Skyline Commons, letting students know there would be a walkout on SE 8th Street at 10:00 a.m.
Approximately 150 students participated in the walkout, surpassing Tarafdar’s expectations. Students were instructed to gather in Skyline Commons before proceeding to SE 8th Street with posters and signs. The poster Tarafdar used during the walkout read, “Honk For Rights.” Other posters had messages such as “My Body My Choice,” “Keep Your Laws Off My Body,” and “Separate Church and State.”
Tarafdar said the walkout was “almost euphoric just because of the immense amount of support I saw.” She was proud of what she accomplished. Previously, she had felt anxious, wondering how many students would show up, but that quickly disappeared on the day of the walkout when the mass of support materialized.
For Tarafdar, the walkout was not just about fighting for abortion rights. She also recognized that high schoolers have limited know-how in community organizing. One of the primary purposes of the walkout, she said, was to help high schoolers build a “strong foundation of activism” and pursue it later on.
“We’re high schoolers; we can’t really do much about it… it’s more about showing that it’s not just mothers and pregnant women who are going to be affected by this,” Tarafdar said.