Three Summit High School students organize “Our Bodies, Our Choice” rally one week after Roe v. Wade was struck down

Though abortion rights are codified into Colorado's state law, the students said they still wanted to host a gathering for community members to show solidarity for others living in anti-abortion states

Milo Parrish speaks at the "Our Bodies, Our Choice" event held Friday, July 1, 2022. Behind him left to right are Sophia Chlipala, Makena Fox, Zoe Gallup, and Lili Wiethake. The event was organized by Summit High School students Fox, Gallup, and Wiethake, to show solidarity for people who will be impacted by the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
Eiliana Wright/Summit Daily News

Three high school students organized a rally on Friday, July 1 to stand in solidarity together in the aftermath of the overturning of Roe vs. Wade. 

The protest, “Our Bodies Our Choice,” was organized by Makena Fox, 17, Zoe Gallup, 16, and Lili Wiethake, 17. All attend Summit High School and will graduate in 2023.

The women organized in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to overturn a court case that, for nearly 50 years, granted women the constitutional right to an abortion. The Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade puts abortion and privacy laws into the hands of the states.

When Fox, Gallup, and Wiethake posted the event in the One Man’s Junk Summit County Facebook page this past Sunday, June 26, they received a myriad of comments asking “why here?” 

Colorado is a notoriously blue state that is currently led by Democratic Governor Jared Polis, who publicly supports pro-choice. Polis recently met with other Democratic governors and President Joe Biden in which Polis urged Biden to take executive action to protect reproductive rights. He also expressed his frustration with the court’s decision. 

In April, Polis signed into law the Reproductive Health Equity Act which established “that every individual has a fundamental right to use or refuse contraception; every pregnant individual has a fundamental right to continue the pregnancy and give birth or to have an abortion; and a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus does not have independent or derivative rights under the laws of the state.”

The three students agreed that the event was held for the purpose to “rally together in solidarity of the women who have gotten their rights taken away,” Gallup said. They also used their platform to list different ways people could advocate and support women in states where abortion rights were not protected.

At the event, there were charities to donate to and foundations the women said needed publicity. Others at the event suggested writing letters to government officials in swing states through an organization called the Blue Wave Postcard Movement. All in attendance — both the women who hosted and attendees — urged that voting would be the best way to make a difference.

Nancy Hassinger, who came to the rally with voter registration forms on a clipboard, said when she heard the news of the decision, her most prominent emotion was sadness. As someone who is registered to conduct a voter registration drive, she brought her resources with her.

“Getting young people involved is so important,” she said. 

After the organizers spoke, many took the stage to show representation of other communities or to share their testimonies. 

Milo Parrish advocated for genderqueer, nonbinary, and trans folks who will be affected by the Supreme Court’s decision to ban abortion.

“To make this about women erases the very real experiences of trans men, genderqueer, and nonbinary people,” he said.

Parrish also believes that these communities may also be impacted by the issue of privacy.

“It doesn’t just mean abortion. It means different kinds of healthcare,” Parrish said. “It means the right to see whether or not I can get hormones or top surgery, or whether trans women are able to get estrogen.”

Evin Harris, who started the Facebook Group called Summit Together, told the crowd that Roe vs. Wade is not an issue that will only affect white women.

“The people who will most be affected by this ban are people of color, and people in other states, and poor people,” Harris said.

She also listed resources people could donate to, including COLOR Latina, and Cobalt Advocates. Harris added that she has heard from many abortion clinics from around Colorado that are asking for monetary donations, because “already they were hit really hard when Texas’ ban went into place, and now it’s gonna be even worse,” she said.

Fran Rothman, who is now in her 80s, also spoke up at the event.

“Keep fighting,” she told the crowd. “We’re going to help you as much as we can, but we need you to do it.” 

Though Rothman was in Frisco for the rally, she is originally from Ohio. Her second residency is here in Summit County, where she stays for the summers.

Rothman said it’s important to her that she keeps her main residency in Columbus, Ohio, where she believes her vote matters more. She writes emails to her Ohio senator and, she said she’s praying that the Ohio legislature doesn’t turn to a Republican majority. 

Wiethake said one of the main emotions she had for planning the rally was anger.

“This is something we’ve never dealt with before,” Wiethake said. “It’s so new, it’s all happening so fast, and really, when it first happened we were all just posting on Instagram, and now we’re hosting a rally.”

Fox shared her sentiment, and said anger was part of the reason why they organized the rally — they didn’t see anyone taking charge, so they took it into their own hands.

“We’re angry, so we’re just gonna do it,” Fox said about planning the rally.

Gallup thanked the crowd over and over for showing up. Though part of their goal, she said, was to show solidarity, she was also excited about the opportunity to share information with the public on how to advocate for people who were affected by the Supreme Court’s decision.

“We are here to share information on how we can create actionable change — to not just say we’re supporting them, but to do something about it,” she said. 

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