Abortion-rights advocates rally at Christian County Justice Center
Abortion-rights advocates rallied Monday morning at the steps of the Christian County Justice Center to state their opposition to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade.
The crowd of roughly 100 people ranged from several children to young adults and seniors. They came in black and pink attire — black to symbolize their opposition to a ban on abortion and pink for women — and many of them carried protest signs.
Barbara Morris, who is 82, came early and brought a chair. The heat index was pushing toward 100 degrees as the rally started at 10 a.m.
“I don’t have children, so I haven’t walked these steps that others have,” Morris told Hoptown Chronicle. “I don’t know what my choice would be, but I do know it is not for the government to decide. They have gone too far when they tell me what I can do with my body.”
Rally organizers stressed their desire to get more like-minded Kentuckians registered to vote and to make their case against a constitutional amendment that would ban abortion.
Constitutional Amendment 2, which the General Assembly voted to put on the Nov. 8 general election ballot, states, “To protect human life, nothing in this Constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.”
A “yes” vote would support the amendment. A “no” vote would oppose it.
“We cannot let that amendment pass,” Bonnie Lynch, who helped organize the rally, told Hoptown Chronicle. “We’ve got to let people know how important it is to stop it.”
Rally speaker Pam Dossett — the Democratic nominee for the 8th District House seat who faces Republican incumbent Walker Thomas in the November general election — told the crowd that the June 24 decision overturning Roe means her four daughters won’t have the same 14th Amendment privacy protection that she had.
“I want you to turn to the young person standing next to you and I want you to tell them, ‘We will not go back,’” Dossett said, leading the rally in a chant.
Idalia Luna, executive director of the Hopkinsville Human Rights Commission, wore a T-shirt with the slogan “Women’s Rights Are Human Rights.”
There are ways to reduce the number of abortions, said Luna. She listed a range of public policy issues, including child care, education and pay equality, that affect women and children.
“We must hold the same dignity and value for a born child, through adulthood, as we would a pregnancy,” she said. “What does it matter if a baby is born but you don’t like the color of their skin or the language that they speak. We must value all lives.”
Sheila Smith-Anderson, of Paducah, spoke about spreading the message of abortion rights to others. She told the members of the rally the need to speak up and tell others what’s at stake. They should “meddle” in a good way, she said, and ask people they encounter at stores, at church and in their neighborhoods if they are registered to vote.
“Are you tired, women?” she said. “Why do we have to keep fighting?”
Dossett said the rally turnout “gives me hope.” She told the crowd, “Take this passion. Make a difference.”
The Supreme Court’s ruling gives states the authority to regulate abortion rights. And it meant that a law passed by the Kentucky General Assembly in 2019 — called a “trigger law” — went into effect immediately to end abortions in the state except when a mother’s life is in danger.
However, on June 30 a Jefferson Circuit Court judge issued a restraining order that allows Kentucky’s two abortion clinics to resume procedures at least until a July 6 hearing in a lawsuit filed by abortion-rights advocates.
Hopkinsville’s rally was the latest among several that opponents to the Supreme Court ruling have staged in Kentucky. Rallies have also occurred in Louisville, Lexington, Frankfort, Bowling Green, Pikeville, Owensboro and Henderson.
This story was originally published by the Hoptown Chronicle, a nonprofit newsroom covering Hopkinsville, Kentucky.