At NYU, 70 walk out of class in support of reproductive rights

Members of NYU YDSA and the NYU Reproductive Health Action Network called on the university to fully cover abortions at a walkout held in Washington Square Park on Thursday, Oct. 6.

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Alex Tey

NYU students walk out of their classes to call on the university to provide better abortion coverage. (Alex Tey for WSN)

Mia Madonna, Contributing Writer

Around 70 NYU students walked out of their classes in support of abortion rights in a protest organized as part of the Day of Student Action for Reproductive Justice, which involved demonstrations at 51 other universities across 27 states. Students called for access to abortions and contraception, gender-affirming health care and improved sex education.

This nationwide push for reproductive rights is in response to the failure of Democrats in Congress to eliminate the filibuster, which could have codified Roe v. Wade, the federal right to an abortion that was overturned on June 24, into law. YDSA’s national chapter and the Graduate Student Action Network, an advocacy coalition of graduate students at more than 50 universities across the country, coordinated the national protests.

Some participants wrote phrases in chalk including “your body is the battle ground” and “abortion is freedom” near the Washington Square Arch. Members of NYU’s chapter of the Young Democratic Socialists of America, which organized the protest at NYU, also collected signatures from students for letters outlining their concerns about NYU’s insurance provider, Wellfleet, which does not fully cover elective abortions. They plan to send the letters to Karen Matys, Wellfleet’s chief operating officer.

Since Roe v. Wade was overturned, at least 13 states have banned or restricted abortions. Though New York has recently passed laws protecting abortion access, many NYU students come from states with fewer protections for abortions. Avery Nelson, a Steinhardt sophomore and the NYU YDSA general assembly member, comes from North Carolina, which passed a 20-week abortion ban in August.

“This is a very big issue for me,” Nelson said. “In North Carolina, if we lose that abortion access, it’d be detrimental. I’m fighting not only for my own rights, but for people back home.” 

Currently, NYU’s insurance provider only fully covers abortion at providers within the unversity’s network in medically necessary cases. For elective abortions, Wellfleet requires a 20% copayment for a basic plan, which increases to 50% at out-of-network providers. NYU YDSA argues that the lack of coverage creates financial barriers, especially for low-income students.

Erin Lawson, a CAS junior and NYU YDSA organizing committee member, said that the event was part of a larger movement for abortion access across all college campuses.

“This is something that matters to students,” Lawson said. “From here, we want to build on momentum with further steps. This is great turnout today, and it’s a show that the student body cares about expanding abortion access.” 

Contact Mia Madonna at [email protected]