Clayton teens organize reproductive rights rally


Chacha Rubin and Poppy Orchard


Penelope “Poppy” Orchard and Catalina “Chacha” Rubin feel strongly that all of us should have “bodily autonomy,” meaning the right to make decisions about our own bodies. And that is why these Clayton High School sophomores are organizing a reproductive rights rally for and by teens Saturday, Nov. 13, from 1 to 3 p.m. in front of Planned Parenthood Forest Park at 4251 Forest Park Ave.

“This is our way to stand up and show support for what we believe in, which is the right to decide what we do with our own bodies,” said Orchard, 16, who attends Central Reform Congregation. She is also involved in TASH — Teen Advocates for Sexual Health — a group through Planned Parenthood for students in grades 9-12, whose mission is to provide, protect and support reproductive and sexual health services, access and rights.

“I think it’s important for teens and young people to feel as if they are represented and have people with whom they can relate,” Orchard said. “When you have someone who is generations older than you telling you what to do with your body, whether you agree with them or not, it is a little bit alienating. It creates more of a safe space when you can talk to someone your own age.”

Rubin, 15, who attends Kol Rinah, said she and Orchard, as well as other teens and representatives from pro-choice organizations such as Planned Parenthood and NARAL, plan to speak at the rally. She said the group’s Instagram account, @teensforchoicestl, as well as numerous emails, have helped to publicize the rally.

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“We have a lot of people sharing our post to get the word out,” said Rubin, who will be part of the next Cultural Leadership class in January.

Orchard said: “We’ve gotten around 1,000 likes on our Insta post, which I know is an overshoot for the number of people in attendance, but we are still going to assume (the rally) will be significantly larger than we had anticipated.”

To that end, a portion of Boyle Avenue adjacent to Planned Parenthood will be closed for the rally. And although it is outdoors, Rubin and Orchard said, masks will be required. They also encourage those coming to bring placards and banners.

Both teens expect some pushback and differing opinions from members in the crowd who are not pro-choice.

“At the end of the day, everyone is entitled to their own opinions,” Orchard said. “That’s guaranteed within the U.S. Constitution, as far as freedom of expression. But within that, bodily autonomy is something people should have entitlement over.”

Orchard said her Jewish values played a part in her decision to help organize the rally.

“As someone not so religiously Jewish but more culturally Jewish, I think something that has made me enjoy being Jewish is the established community and the fact that we like to employ empathy into a lot of what we do,” she said. “I do think it has influenced me growing up in a Jewish culture.”

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