Roe v. Wade: A Conversation on the News

Students listen to and reflect on a range of voices about the leaked Supreme Court draft ruling that would reverse Roe v. Wade. 

To the Teacher: 

Shockwaves reverberated across the country on May 2 after a Supreme Court draft opinion that would overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade decision was leaked to the press. The draft indicated that the Supreme Court is likely to overturn Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion in the United States.

The leaked draft decision felt like a victory to abortion opponents. But “pro-choice” activists (who believe in a pregnant person’s right to choose whether to have an abortion) were devastated, though in many cases not surprised.

Ending legal abortion has been a main goal of the conservative legal movement for decades. Since the 1973 ruling, 13 states have passed so-called “trigger laws” that have set the stage for outlawing abortion and/or limiting it heavily if the Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade.  

As news of the leak broke, demonstrators went into the street almost immediately.  Outside the Supreme Court, pro-choice activists lined up along barricades with signs reading things like “choice is a human right,” “bans off our bodies,” and “abortion is healthcare.”

Anti-abortion demonstrators (who often refer to themselves as “pro-life”) also gathered with signs such as “abortion is violence” and chanted with megaphones: “Pro-choice is a lie, babies don’t choose to die.”

Protests continued across the country in the days that followed.

Many abortion rights supporters are especially angry because 60 to 65 percent of Americans support a person’s right to choose whether to have an abortion. However, recent dramatic changes on the Supreme Court led to a majority of the court now apparently in favor of eliminating a right that has been settled law for 50 years. 

In this lesson, students are invited to look at various responses to the news from both opponents of abortion and those who are pro-choice.   

In advance of your class, consider reviewing these guidelines for discussing difficult issues in the classroom. 

Pro-choice rally
Photo by Lori Shaull

Opening Reflection

Before you begin, review with students the community agreements or guidelines that you created together earlier in the year.  This will remind students about ways to have a meaningful and constructive discussion even if we disagree strongly with one another. (If you didn’t create such agreements with your students earlier in the year, you might consider starting your lesson that way.) 

Next, write Roe v. Wade on the board.

Invite student reflections on what they know about the Supreme Court decision and why it has been in the news recently.

Summarize what students share, adding information from the “to the teacher” segment above as needed. 

Explain that in today’s lesson we’ll be hearing different voices in response to the leaked draft opinion by the Supreme Court on May 2. 

Voices from Around the Country 

In this activity, students will read a range of voices from the protests/rallies in the days following the leak, using this handout.

Structure this discussion either as a pair share (Option 1) or as a restorative circle process (Option 2). If students are familiar with circles, use Option 2.  


Option 1: Pair Share

Invite students to read a range of voices from the protests/rallies in the days following the leak, using this handout.

Consider asking different volunteers to read each of these voices out loud for all to hear. Ask students to sit with these voices for about a minute to let them sink in, then pick one that resonates with them. 

In a pair share, invite students to take turns talking about the voice that resonated with them and why.

Back in the large group, invite a discussion about these different voices/perspectives and how students think and feel about them. 


Remind students that they should not share the opinions of their pair share partners – unless their partners have given them permission to do so. As the discussion continues you might also want to remind students of particular community agreements or guidelines.

If needed, introduce this practice of active listening, at least to start with: After a student has shared their perspective, ask the next student to paraphrase what they heard from the previous student before sharing their own perspective. This process slows down the discussion and ensures that students are listening to each other, not just waiting to share. The goal is listening for understanding, not listening to refute.

Option 2: Restorative Circle Process

Invite students to read a range of voices from the protests/rallies in the days following the leak, using this handout.

Send a talking piece around to invite all voices into the space using the following go-round prompts:

Go round 1: What voice resonated with you? Why?

Go round 2: What connections, reflections, or additional thoughts do you have after listening to each other?

Fishbowl Activity: 6 Perspectives

If your students are prepared to continue the discussion, invite them to take part in a “fishbowl” activity.

The activity will invite students to read and discuss the views of six women – three from each side of the abortion debate. These women – Kara Anderson (22), Stacy Shaw (39), Catherine Nix (58), Kelly DeVine (40), Catriona Fee (20), and Michele Goodwin (51) – were asked by the BBC to read the leaked draft Supreme Court decision, and then to share their views on abortion, the leaked brief, and its implications. Their voices can be found here.

Divide your class into six groups. Assign each group to read one of the six views in the BBC article, ensuring that all six views will be read. Then ask students to discuss in their small groups:

  • What are your thoughts and feelings about what you just read?
  • What are the main points this person makes about Roe v. Wade?
  • Explain that students will be representing this person’s perspective in a fishbowl activity. Ask them to step into this person’s shoes and imagine: How would you represent this person’s perspective in a discussion – even if you disagree with it?

Fishbowl process  

Two students from each group will join the fishbowl initially to represent their person, for a total of 12 students sitting in an inner circle.

The other students will sit in a larger circle around the inner circle. Ask these students to sit in a group behind the two students in the inner circle who are representing their person. 

Start the discussion by inviting the representatives of the six perspectives to introduce themselves by sharing their person’s name and a short opening statement about how their person views the leaked brief. 

Next, open up a discussion/conversation in the inner circle, with each student representing their person’s perspective. Ask students in the outer circle to listen closely.

After a minute or so of discussion, those in the outer circle can enter the discussion by tapping the classmate who represents “their” perspective on the shoulder and rotating into their seat. Continue the discussion while energy is high, and students have perspectives to contribute.

As you wrap up the fishbowl, invite students’ perspectives on the activity. Ask:

  • What were your thoughts and feelings about the activity we just did?
  • If you represented a view you share, what was that like?
  • If you represented a view you do not share, what was that like?
  • What did you learn?
  • What do you have questions about?


If you had a heated discussion because of the strong opposing views your students shared, consider inviting students to ground themselves as you talk them through the following mindful activity:

Take one or two deep breaths in through your nose, out through your mouth.

Consider closing your eyes or softening your gaze.

Imagine the four “corners” of your feet as they make contact with the floor. 

Next I invite you to scrunch up your feet by curling your toes under the soles of your feet for a few seconds.

And relax, allowing your feet to make contact with the ground again.

Can you feel your feet more solidly connected to the ground?

Next tighten and ball up your fists for a few seconds.

And let go, relax your hands, letting them rest in your lap.

Do you feel any tingling, a release of tension you might have been holding?

And finally pull your shoulders up towards your ears and hold for a few seconds.

Now relax, allow your shoulders to drop.

How does it feel to let some of the tension in your shoulders go?

Take a few more deep breaths. 

Now think back to our lesson today.

And ask students:

  • What is one takeaway you have from today’s lesson?

If a grounding activity isn’t needed in the moment, simply ask students to share a takeaway from today’s lesson.