Inspired by recent student walkouts over gun control, hundreds of high school and college students across the US took part in a pro-life walkout on Wednesday.
According to pro-life group Students for Life of America (SFLA), more than 400 students and student organizations told SFLA that they planned on participating in the April 11 walkout, though the actual number is likely higher, as students did not have to register with the group to participate.
“Across the country, pro-life students and groups stood up for the 321,384 babies killed by Planned Parenthood every year, against the violence of abortion, and in support of pregnant and parenting students,” SFLA president Kristan Hawkins said in a statement.
“In pictures worth millions of words, we saw students walking out, praying, and chalking pro-life messages to bring attention to the fact that one-fourth of our generation has been snuffed out of existence because of legalized abortion,” she added.
Participants were encouraged to use #Life and #ProLifeWalkout to document their participation on social media. Like the March for Our Lives walkout, the pro-life walkout lasted 17 minutes, during which time students mourned the 10 babies who would be killed by abortion within that time frame.
The idea for the pro-life walkout came from Brandon Gillespie, a student at Rocklin High School in Rocklin, Calif., a suburb of Sacramento.
Gillespie said in March that the idea for the pro-life walkout came to him after his history teacher, Julianne Benzel, discussed the national gun control walkouts in her classroom. Benzel asked her students whether the same privileges would be afforded to students if they wanted to walk out over issues like abortion, or if a double standard existed. She was then placed on paid administrative leave following complaints about her discussion of the issue.
“If you’re going to allow students to get up and walk out without penalty, then you’re going to have to allow any group of students that wants to protest,” Benzel told Fox & Friends.
After hearing of Gillespie’s plan to hold a pro-life walkout, Students for Life created a website promoting the idea to schools throughout the nation.
“I also want to thank Brandon Gillespie at Rocklin High School for inspiring this national walkout and for not letting his school intimidate him out of hosting his walkout. The tremendous, truly grassroots interest we have seen in the walkout is further proof that the Pro-Life Generation is the majority and is strong and growing,” Hawkins said.
The website for the walkout included a list of high schools and colleges that registered with SFLA for the walkout, which included public and private schools from throughout the United States.
“...it's time for the #ProLifeGen to stand up and say ‘Enough is Enough!’ We will no longer tolerate legal abortion in our nation, which has killed more than a fourth of our generation,” the walkout website stated.
“We will no longer watch as our leaders in Washington continue to fund our nation’s largest abortion vendor, Planned Parenthood, with more than $500 million of our taxpayer dollars. We will no longer permit Planned Parenthood and their allies in the abortion industry to target our peers for their predatory business cycle.”
Hawkins added that SFLA was notified of several students who reported that they faced discrimination for participating in a pro-life walkout, while the gun control walkout was given special accommodations by many schools.
Life Legal Defense Foundation, a non-profit that defends pro-life clients, sent a letter to Gillespie’s high school, notifying the administration that they could face legal ramifications if they interfered with the pro-life walkout and treated participating students differently than those who participated in the gun control walkout.
SFLA and Life Legal have offered to provide legal assistance to any students who faced discrimination for their participation in the pro-life walkout.