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Photos: Hundreds of Tucson high school students walk out of class to rally for abortion rights

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Hundreds of high-school students rallied for abortion rights at the UA campus on Wednesday morning. - Paul Ingram/TucsonSentinel.com

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Hundreds of Tucson-area high school students rallied for abortion rights Wednesday morning on the University of Arizona campus.

Around 10 a.m., students from at least a dozen schools, including Tucson High Magnet School—just a few blocks from the UA—left their classes and headed to the grassy bowl of the university's Highland Quad.

The rally also included students from City Hall, Rincon and University, Pueblo, and Amphi high schools.

This is the third protest for abortion rights in Tucson since the recent leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion showing the justices are likely to strike down Roe v. Wade—the landmark 1973 decision that made abortion legal across the United States.

Before the rally, the superintendent of Tucson Unified School District warned students who walked out of classes that they would face unexcused absences with "no opportunity to make up work."

In a letter to parents, Dr. Gabriel Trujillo said that the walk-out was not a district-sponsored event, and said that any students "participating in the walkout and leaving campus before the end of the school day will not be allowed to re-enter the school once they’ve left."

Nonetheless, hundreds of kids from Tucson High left that campus around 10 a.m., and marched up 6th Street to the UA.

During the rally, Arizona List and others registered eligible students to vote this November. Under state law, teens can register to vote if they'll be at least 18 years old by the time of the next election.

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The rally followed a move by abortion rights activists, first reported by the Tucson Sentinel, to launch a statewide initiative to amend Arizona's Constitution to include a "fundamental right to reproductive freedom."

Organizers will need at least 356,000 signatures by July 7 to get the measure on the ballot in November. Representatives of that group, Arizonans for Reproductive Freedom, were not on hand Wednesday.

The amendment would add the "right to make and effectuate decisions about all matters relating to pregnancy" to the state Constitution, including abortion and contraception.

The measure would have to be approved by a majority of Arizona voters.

Other recent abortion-rights demonstrations have also drawn hundreds of Tucsonans.

On May 4, hundreds assembled in Downtown Tucson to push for abortion rights, blocking traffic on Congress for hours. And, last weekend, hundreds again came out to support Planned Parenthood during a rally at Armory Park.

On May 2, the news magazine Politico published a draft of an opinion authored by Justice Samuel Alito. The court's draft opinion would strike down  Roe v. Wade, which guaranteed federal constitutional protections for abortions rights, as well as Planned Parenthood v. Casey, a 1992 decision that reiterated the right.

In the draft opinion, Alito argued that Roe v. Wade "was egregiously wrong from the start," Politico reported. "We hold that Roe and Casey must be overruled," Alito wrote in a document that was labeled as the "opinion of the court."

"It is time to heed to the Constitution and return the issue of abortion to the people's elected representatives," he wrote.

The original decision was based on a lawsuit in Texas, when a woman—Norma McCorvey, who filed her lawsuit as Jane Roe to protect herself—sued Henry Wade, the district attorney in Dallas County, challenging the state's law that made abortion illegal.

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The court ruled 7-2 that abortion was protected under a fundamental right to privacy under the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Due Process Clause.

However, since that decision, conservatives have attacked Roe v. Wade with hammer and tongs, using state legislatures, and the Supreme Court itself to challenge the right to seek an abortion.

Following the leak, activists have warned that without the right to privacy outlined by Roe v. Wade and other cases, legislators could also attack gay marriage, and even the right to purchase and use contraception. And, even as the court may continue to wrangle over the right to seek an abortion, state legislatures have teed up new bills, or prepare to enforce old legislation.

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