Oconomowoc Excessive College college students stroll out in help of abortion rights

A group of Oconomowoc High School students on Friday walked out of school in support of abortion rights.

The walkout began around 2 pm with students marching from the school to downtown Oconomowoc’s Village Green on a rainy day. Once they arrived, they set up alongside the sidewalk and held signs and sang chants promoting abortion rights as cars drove by, some honking their horns. About 36 people were part of the walkout, most of them OHS students, and some adults.

“I was seeing rumors of walkouts at other schools and thought we should do it on our own,” said junior Roman Fritz, one of the walkout’s organizers. It’s definitely a worthy cause, he said.

“It’s very important that this decision isn’t made, and that the Supreme Court doesn’t have as much power as it does,” Fritz said, referring to the recent leak of a Supreme Court opinion that could overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade case.

Fellow student and co-organizer Mack Toson said that she researched chants for the walkout and asked a teacher about how to organize it.

“We got a meeting with the principal (Jason Curtis) and some police officers and we talked out the logistics of it and here we are,” Toson said.

One of the signs Toson held said “Keep your laws off of my body.”

“The issue with abortion is not an issue about life. It’s an issue about control. Every person with a uterus should be allowed to choose whether or not they have to carry a fetus to term or not,” Toson said.

Mary Uebelacher’s son participated in the walkout. She said her experiences of having her own kids, a miscarriage and a subsequent dilation and curettage procedure, led her to support the walkout.

“It’s having these feelings and experiences through life that makes me know what they’re doing is right,” Uebelacher said.

But the marchers faced opposition as well.

OHS student Brianna Wittenburg, along with her two sisters, her parents, and family friend Teri Giannetti, were on the Lake Road side of the Village Green wearing pro-life shirts.

“If they have the right to state their opinion, then we have the right to state ours,” Wittenburg said.

“They definitely do not realize that there still are other teenagers in the school that do not agree with what (the marchers) agree with. Me, I would say that I fly under the radar with them. They talk like I agree with them and all that,” said Samantha Wittenburg, Brianna’s sister.

More: Here’s what is likely to happen in Wisconsin if Roe v. Wade ruling on legal abortion is overturned

The Wittenburgs’ mother, Jennifer, said that she thinks abortion is murder and knows women who have chosen to get an abortion and regretted their decisions.

“It’s sickening to me as a mom of three daughters — especially teenage daughters — that someone would poison their minds and tell them things like ‘A child is not a child’ or ‘a fetus is just a fetus’ or ‘it’s a cluster of cells and it’s not a baby.’ If it wasn’t raining, I would have happily brought out some materials for them to see what a child in the womb actually looks like and hear a heartbeat,” Jennifer Wittenburg said.

The walkout was not endorsed by the school or any school-related club or organization, according to Oconomowoc Area School District communications and marketing manager Kelly Ellifson.

“While we respect our students’ freedom to exercise their first amendment rights, we are obligated to maintain a safe learning environment in our school. Therefore, students who choose to leave school unexcused during school hours will be held accountable to the attendance rules outlined in our student handbook,” Ellifson said.

More: Almost all abortions would be illegal in Wisconsin if leaked Supreme Court opinion overturning Roe stands

More: Following Supreme Court opinion leak, activists protest, call for abortion rights

Contact Alec Johnson at (262) 875-9469 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter at @AlecJohnson12.

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