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One year without abortion access: Louisville rally commemorates ‘tragic milestone’ for Kentucky

People stand outside Louisville Metro Hall to show their support for abortion rights. One person is accompanied by their beagle, and another holds a pink umbrella.
Morgan Watkins
/
LPM
Abortion rights supporters gathered Tuesday evening outside Louisville Metro Hall to mark the one-year anniversary of when a judge allowed Kentucky's near-total ban on abortion to take effect.

Kentucky lost access to legal abortion one year ago, when a judge let the state’s near-total abortion ban take effect. Abortion rights supporters gathered Tuesday to mark the anniversary.

Tamarra Wieder of Planned Parenthood Alliance Advocates called the anniversary of Kentucky’s abortion ban a “tragic milestone.”

“It's been a brutal year,” she told the crowd of over 50 people who gathered Tuesday evening outside Louisville Metro Hall. “But you, like us, keep showing up. Keep fighting back. And we're not done yet.”

Planned Parenthood can no longer provide abortions in Louisville but still offers other health services there.

“Through thick and thin, we will be fighting for the future we know is possible,” Wieder said of the organization.

Many speakers at Tuesday’s rally talked about the work that lies ahead now that Kentucky, Indiana and other states are severely restricting access to abortion.

Ana’Neicia Williams, with SisterSong Kentucky, spoke about the maternal health risks that disproportionately affect Black people and about SisterSong’s focus on intersectionality.

“Envisioning reproductive justice is how we uplift human dignity and worth, bodily autonomy, joy, love and rest,” Williams said. “So I ask you today: Will you seek liberation with me? And as I close out, will you trust Black women like me to be seen, heard and supported with our reproductive lives and birth justice equity?”

The crowd cheered in response to both questions.

Cantor Sharon Hordes, a Jewish spiritual leader and member of the Kentucky Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, spoke about carrying on the fight for abortion rights.

“On this sad anniversary, we all want to cry, we want to scream and shake our fists,” Hordes said. “And once we get that out of our system, I remind you to look around and see that all of us are here. Refusing to desist from the hard work of reclaiming our bodily autonomy.”

Another speaker at the rally, Amira Bryant, said abortion access is a matter of social justice and gender equity.

“Together we must be the force that reshapes the landscape of reproductive freedom in Kentucky,” Bryant told the crowd. “We cannot ignore the reality that restrictions disproportionately impact those who are marginalized, creating a cycle of injustice that we must break.”

Joi McAtee, executive director of Louisville Metro Government’s Office of Equity, noted that people with sufficient economic means will always be able to access abortion. That’s because they’re able to travel out-of-statefor care if abortion is outlawed where they live.

But McAtee said abortion bans like Kentucky’s restrict access for a majority of women. And she said people must fight for equal access to health care by sending messages to their lawmakers at the ballot box.

As the rally wrapped up Tuesday evening, Wieder of Planned Parenthood stepped up to the microphone once more.

“This does conclude our rally but does not conclude the work that lies ahead,” she told the crowd. “We need you all to stay vigilant. We need you all to stay active. And we need you all to stay pissed – because the attacks keep coming.”

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Morgan is LPM's health reporter. Email Morgan at mwatkins@lpm.org.