Protesters condemn Roe v Wade ruling

·2 min read

Jul. 1—Colorful signs and messages covered the Daviess County Courthouse lawn along Frederica Street on Thursday in response to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade — effectively ending the constitutional right to abortion after 49 years.

About 150 people gathered and marched during the "We Won't Go Back" protest to voice their displeasure with the ruling.

Charlie Butterworth, of Owensboro, was glad to see people with similar beliefs not be afraid to have their voices heard.

"I don't think that it's going to change the world, perhaps, but I do think it just makes a very big impact on the community," said Butterworth, 21. "We're all here together, so we don't feel so alone, because I always thought I was ... one of the few in the town that actually really feels for this movement.

"But it's really more making sure the community knows that we're here, and we're going to be here for a while."

While the commonwealth's abortion ban was blocked by a judge's temporary order earlier Thursday, protest co-organizers JoAnna Payne and Ollie Gray want to make sure that "our rights remain ours."

"The right to bodily autonomy is a human right," said Payne, 31. "That's what we're here to fight for."

"I just want to ensure that we keep voting for people who are going to protect our rights," said Gray, 27. "I have a little girl at home, so this is something that I don't want her to have to go through."

The protest began with chants such as "My body, my choice" and cheers towards drivers who passed by and honked in support, before the protesters marched down the sidewalks of Frederica and Fifth streets.

Kelsey Klein of Owensboro is hopeful that people understand the message she and the protesters are trying to communicate to the public.

"I just hope that people understand that abortion is healthcare," said Klein, 29. "I think people have a black-and-white version of what abortion is, and I hope that this kind of makes it a little bit gray, so that they have some thought to it."

Klein and her husband, Ben Klein, 30, decided to attend based on their experiences with previous protests and movements they've observed.

"We were both living in Louisville at the time of the Black Lives Matter protest; and so going there and seeing how that does affect change kind of pushed me to come out today," Kelsey Klein said.

Payne, who said co-organizing the protest is the "most momentous thing" they've done in their life, is proud to be able to provide a platform for others.

"I don't think anything had ever quite meant this much," Payne said, "not just for myself, but for people everywhere."

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com.