No, the March for Our Lives school walkout is not the same as pro-life school walkout

No, the March for Our Lives school walkout is not the same as pro-life school walkout
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On March 14, thousands of students walked out of their schools’ classrooms to protest government inaction on gun control. The walkout took place exactly 1 month after 17 students were massacred at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Now, on April 11 students are planning to walk out of their schools to protest the constitutionally protected right to have an abortion. The march was stirred by a teacher in Sacramento who questioned whether the administration of her public school would support students who wanted to walk out of their classrooms to protest the right to abortion care, as the school had supported the March 14 walk out. Indeed, anti-choice media has already declared this Rocklin, Calif. high school student activist a hero, and villainized the perceived double-standard.

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However, I’d like to first point out that not all schools did support their students who walked out on March 14. Some were even sentenced to detention for their solidarity and activism. Students accepted those consequences and walked out anyway.

 

Secondly and more importantly, I want to talk about the true crux of the issue here, which is that our collective inability to pass gun control restrictions is based on our desire to control other people. To control those who do not have the financial access to private health care or could pay for a procedure themselves. To control women.

After every mass shooting, we all see the albeit well-intentioned quotes and memes and internet commentary comparing what women go through to receive abortion care to what gun restrictions in this country should look like.

But this narrative only works to diminish the true hurdles, perseverance and determination that women and people have to conquer to receive health care. We cannot compare what women go through to access constitutionally protected health care to regulations and restrictions on firearms.

The simple fact is that abortions take place within the medical system (now that they are a constitutionally protected right) and that ensures safety, expertise and a high level of regulation. Gun sales have very little oversight and regulation. The right to medical privacy can be found in multiple Amendments in our constitution. But the right to be totally free from any type of regulation is nowhere to be found.

Abortion rights and all too easy access to guns have always gone hand-in-hand in social debate. Many infographics and benevolent tweets point out the double-standard of the anti-choice movement, a movement that only seems to care about a person when it is nothing more than fetal tissue, and yet doesn’t support the gun-control movement. But we also see anti-choice activists claiming all those in support of reproductive rights and justice as violent as these mass shooters.

The co-opting of social justice movements to conform to anti-choice rhetoric is not a particularly new tactic. Those walking out of school tomorrow should bear in mind these two truths:

  1. You have the right to protest as you see fit, consequences and all.
  2. Regulation of an object and regulation on a person’s body and medical privacy are false equivalents.

Prohibiting people from buying assault weapons and trusting women to make their own health care decisions are not part of the same coin. In fact, we’re talking about different currency altogether. Guns are a public health crisis. Abortion is health care.

Julie A. Burkhart is the founder and CEO of Trust Women Foundation, which advocates for reproductive freedom and operates abortion clinics in Wichita Kan., Oklahoma City, Okla. and Seattle, Wa.