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Anti-abortion group Right to Life Louisville’s festival turns into celebration after Supreme Court decision

LifeFest became a space for anti-abortion advocates to celebrate the overturning of Roe v. Wade.
LifeFest became a space for anti-abortion advocates to celebrate the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Dozens of people celebrated in the green space at the St. Louis Bertrand Catholic Church in the Limerick neighborhood Saturday for LifeFest, an anti-abortion event hosted by Right to Life Louisville. 

The free event featured booths for anti-abortion organizations, music performances, food and a petting zoo.

“We wanted to have a festival, a fun-spirited festival that showed the love of the pro-life community,” Right to Life Louisville director Corey Koellner said. “We invited our pro-life partners in the community so people in the community can see the great network we have of pro-life resources.”

Right to Life Louisville had the event planned before organizers knew the United States Supreme Court was releasing a decision that removed federal protection from abortion access.

The justices voted 6-3 to uphold a Mississippi law banning abortion at 15 weeks and giving states the power to regulate access to abortion. The decision activated Kentucky’s “trigger law,” which means nearly all abortions are now illegal in the state.

“Yesterday was kind of surprising for us, at least for us at Right to Life, so it’s turned into a celebration of sorts,” Koellner said.

Anti-abortion movement supporters said Friday’s decision was almost 50 years in the making, referencing the Supreme Court’s ruling in Roe v. Wade that created federal protections for abortion access.

Chris O’Toole described himself as a life-long anti-abortion advocate. He said he’s been advocating for Right to Life since he was a child alongside his grandmother.

“We’re celebrating the overturn because we’re returning that to the people’s right,” O’Toole said. “Yes, it’s a great step. I’m excited to see it overturned, but we still have a lot of work to do.”

According to O’Toole, that includes getting states where elected officials have not enacted anti-abortion laws to create their own anti-abortion legislation.

O’Toole also mentioned the constitutional amendment that will be on the ballot this November. It would add language saying the state’s constitution does not protect access to or funding of abortion.  

Some supporters of overturning Roe said they understood Friday’s decision was upsetting to a lot of people, but that they hope pro-abortion access advocates will be willing to sit and speak with them.

“We would like to walk with them and do what we can do to help them so that they don’t feel they have to have an abortion,” Mary Kenney said. 

Kenney said she hopes those discussions would help to foster an understanding in those who support access to abortion of the other resources available to pregnant people.

She said she hopes for a “culture of life” in the country where expectant parents feel supported. 

America is one of only a few countries that does not offer paid parental leave. It also ranks high among other wealthy nations for its rate of maternal mortality

Many of the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision supporters at the event were focused on the immediate effects of the decision. The further implications suggested by Justice Clarence Thomas' concurrent opinion that the high court could next overturn access to contraception or some LGBTQ rights weren’t at the forefront of their minds. 

Koellner said he didn’t think that things like LGTBQ rights would be affected anytime soon, while Kenney said she expects that it will and that states shouldn’t be “legalizing things that aren’t marriage.”

Breya Jones is the Arts & Culture Reporter for LPM. Email Breya at bjones@lpm.org.

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