Superintendent Chris Reykdal’s Statement on Reported U.S. Supreme Court Roe v. Wade Decision

On Monday, a confidential draft majority opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court was leaked to the press indicating the Court’s intention to strike down the landmark Roe v. Wade decision of 1973. If the majority opinion is maintained when the Court’s final decision is unveiled, the federal protections of abortion rights — which are protected through the constitutional right to privacy­ — will be abolished.

A photo of the U.S. Supreme Court, shaded in blue. The words “Equal Justice Under Law” can be seen as inscribed on the building.
U.S. Supreme Court

OLYMPIA — May 3, 2022 — Yesterday, we learned that the U.S. Supreme Court is likely to overturn the federal constitutional protections of abortion rights across the nation. If the draft majority opinion holds, it will represent the most profound rollback of any civil right in America, and an unprecedented setback for gender equality.

As Washington state’s elected K–12 schools chief, it would be short-sighted for me to believe that my job starts and ends within the walls of our classrooms. While I have opinions and responsibilities related to content areas such as reading, math, science, and physical education, education leaders are also undeniably invested in the future of our young people and in the well-being of our families. It is counterintuitive and dangerous to believe that stripping access to safe abortions will not have detrimental impacts on our children and families.

If this draft majority opinion holds, the young people in our nation’s schools today will be the first in nearly half a century to enter adulthood without the federally protected basic human right of choosing if, when, and how to start a family. The economic impacts of this unprecedented reversal would be devastating — abolishing choice will indisputably limit the education and career opportunities of young women.

Many of our students will come to school this week wanting to discuss this pivotal moment in our nation’s history, and I encourage educators to create safe spaces for open and respectful dialogue. We teach our students the value of having differing opinions and viewpoints, and how our differences contribute to a healthy democracy.

Our educators are trained professionals who are skilled in facilitating classroom conversations, including conversations about controversial topics. Our classrooms are environments where students are taught to engage in dialogue respectfully, listen with empathy, and express their emotions and feelings in healthy ways.

As the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court move forward in their final deliberations, I hope they will think deeply about whether they want to go down in history as the group of individuals responsible for stripping the American people of a right and freedom that has been constitutionally protected for nearly 50 years.

While it appears in the draft majority opinion that states will have the ability to continue to uphold access to reproductive healthcare, including abortion, make no mistake: Millions of Americans will be harmed by this decision.

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The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction

Led by Supt. Chris Reykdal, OSPI is the primary agency charged with overseeing K–12 education in Washington state.

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