Signs for Change: St. Louis Pro-Choice Student Activists Reproductive Rights Rally

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  • Rabbi Susan Talve leads an opening prayer before the first speech. She missed service at her temple Central Reform Congregation to speak. “Somebody asked me why I am here,” she said. “It’s because I speak for God and she is mad.”

  • Cort VanOstran, former Democratic candidate for Congress, stands next to the platform before addressing the crowd. VanOstran lost the 2018 midterm election to then Mo. Attorney General Josh Hawley. “Men if you want to live in a country with personal liberties, we have to stand up against those who would limit the rights of half the population,” he said.

  • Sunny Lu, student at Ladue Horton Watkins High School, photographs Gunby from the ground. Lu is one of the students who organized the protest in under a week. “[Planning] it was chaotic,” Lu said. “There were quite a few missteps but chats of 200 plus people are always chaotic. Also it was during finals week, so it was very stressful for me.”

  • Trish Gunby, Missouri House Democratic nominee, rallies support for her 2020 campaign for House District 99. Gunby became the democratic nominee after the resignation of incumbent Jean Evans. “Parents, grandparents and other adults say, ‘When I was your age, let me tell you about when I was your age’ and then they spew some wisdom,” Gunby said. “But one thing that I’m finding out from these movements, whether it be regarding gun violence, women’s right to choose, all of those things- we need to start listening to the young people and we need to understand that they are the ones today that are sharing wisdom about all of these crucial issues. So thank you, thank you, thank you for being the voice of wisdom.”

  • Bria Heike, mother of two, stands with her husband Matt and daughter Hazel and listens to writer Pamela Merritt speak. Her daughter Annalise Overlin is a member of STLPSA who helped organize the event. “Because my daughter has the right to her own body,” Bria said. “I chose to have children. She might not want to.”

  • In only a week, a newly-founded activist group called St. Louis Pro-Choice Student Activists (STLPSA) organized a rally that lasted four hours on Saturday, May 26 on Aloe Plaza in downtown St. Louis. High school students organized the event to bring attention to the national controversy surrounding reproductive rights following Gov. Mike Parson’s signing of Mo. HB 126, which bans abortions at eight weeks except in medical emergencies, and allows for no exceptions in instances human trafficking, rape or incest. Hundreds gathered to hear speeches and view performances.

  • An anonymous volunteer for the Sen. Bernie Sanders presidential campaign stands on the edge of the crowd. He has been a volunteer since 2016 and attended the protest on his own initiative to share the campaign’s stance on abortion.

  • Eliot Blackmoore, student at Clayton High School, wears a shirt with the year 1984 on it. The shirt is a reference to the classic novel of the same name by George Orwell, whose themes focus on overreach of government and repression of individual rights.

  • Senior Ryan Kelley and junior Laura Dorris check their phones before leaving the rally. They heard about the rally through STLPSA’s Instagram account, which gained 561 followers in a week. “The fact that they set this thing up in seven days is pretty astonishing,” Kelley said. “It’s kind of insane, honestly,” Dorris added.

  • Samanvita Kasthuri, student at Parkway South High School, prepares to perform an originally choreographed and composed interpretive dance. The dance marked the end of the rally. “Anyone who has a uterus, or anyone who can reproduce, I made this dance because I am scared for you,” Kasthuri said.

  • Rabbi Susan Talve leads an opening prayer before the first speech. She missed service at her temple Central Reform Congregation to speak. “Somebody asked me why I am here,” she said. “It’s because I speak for God and she is mad.”

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  • In only a week, a newly-founded activist group called St. Louis Pro-Choice Student Activists (STLPSA) organized a rally that lasted four hours on Saturday, May 26 on Aloe Plaza in downtown St. Louis. High school students organized the event to bring attention to the national controversy surrounding reproductive rights following Gov. Mike Parson’s signing of Mo. HB 126, which bans abortions at eight weeks except in medical emergencies, and allows for no exceptions in instances human trafficking, rape or incest. Hundreds gathered to hear speeches and view performances.

  • Rabbi Susan Talve leads an opening prayer before the first speech. She missed service at her temple Central Reform Congregation to speak. “Somebody asked me why I am here,” she said. “It’s because I speak for God and she is mad.”

  • Trish Gunby, Missouri House Democratic nominee, rallies support for her 2020 campaign for House District 99. Gunby became the democratic nominee after the resignation of incumbent Jean Evans. “Parents, grandparents and other adults say, ‘When I was your age, let me tell you about when I was your age’ and then they spew some wisdom,” Gunby said. “But one thing that I’m finding out from these movements, whether it be regarding gun violence, women’s right to choose, all of those things- we need to start listening to the young people and we need to understand that they are the ones today that are sharing wisdom about all of these crucial issues. So thank you, thank you, thank you for being the voice of wisdom.”

  • Sunny Lu, student at Ladue Horton Watkins High School, photographs Gunby from the ground. Lu is one of the students who organized the protest in under a week. “[Planning] it was chaotic,” Lu said. “There were quite a few missteps but chats of 200 plus people are always chaotic. Also it was during finals week, so it was very stressful for me.”

  • An anonymous volunteer for the Sen. Bernie Sanders presidential campaign stands on the edge of the crowd. He has been a volunteer since 2016 and attended the protest on his own initiative to share the campaign’s stance on abortion.

  • Bria Heike, mother of two, stands with her husband Matt and daughter Hazel and listens to writer Pamela Merritt speak. Her daughter Annalise Overlin is a member of STLPSA who helped organize the event. “Because my daughter has the right to her own body,” Bria said. “I chose to have children. She might not want to.”

  • Cort VanOstran, former Democratic candidate for Congress, stands next to the platform before addressing the crowd. VanOstran lost the 2018 midterm election to then Mo. Attorney General Josh Hawley. “Men if you want to live in a country with personal liberties, we have to stand up against those who would limit the rights of half the population,” he said.

  • Senior Ryan Kelley and junior Laura Dorris check their phones before leaving the rally. They heard about the rally through STLPSA’s Instagram account, which gained 561 followers in a week. “The fact that they set this thing up in seven days is pretty astonishing,” Kelley said. “It’s kind of insane, honestly,” Dorris added.

  • Eliot Blackmoore, student at Clayton High School, wears a shirt with the year 1984 on it. The shirt is a reference to the classic novel of the same name by George Orwell, whose themes focus on overreach of government and repression of individual rights.

  • Samanvita Kasthuri, student at Parkway South High School, prepares to perform an originally choreographed and composed interpretive dance. The dance marked the end of the rally. “Anyone who has a uterus, or anyone who can reproduce, I made this dance because I am scared for you,” Kasthuri said.

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