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Hundreds in Louisville protest abortion ruling, others celebrate decision

Following SCOTUS' overturn of Roe v. Wade, ACLU of Kentucky led a large rally in downtown Louisville. The ruling makes most cases of abortion illegal in the state.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The Louisville community saw some of the city's biggest protest crowds since the summer of 2020, following the U.S. Supreme Court's overturn of Roe v. Wade.

Hundreds of people marched peacefully through the streets of downtown Friday afternoon into evening, starting at the Gene Snyder Federal Building and culminating at Metro Hall.

Many told WHAS11 the ruling didn't come as a surprise, given the leaked opinion months ago. But they said once it became reality, the feelings of overwhelming distress came pouring out as abortion options have officially dwindled in Kentucky.

"You're never prepared to hear this news," said Richelle Harris, who's worked with the ACLU of Kentucky for nearly a year.

Civilian cars blocked the streets of downtown as the rally made its way through. Many in the pro-choice community said they're deeply concerned and are demanding state lawmakers to listen.

"Today's ruling will have deadly consequences," ACLU of Kentucky policy strategist Jackie McGranahan said.

With a nearly 50-year nationwide precedent struck down, Kentucky's trigger law -- the Human Life Protection Act passed in 2019 -- immediately goes into effect.

Louisville's two abortion clinics are ceasing procedures, but they said their doors will remain open to help.

"You better believe we'll be navigating our patients across state lines," said a representative from Planned Parenthood at the rally.

Other prominent community groups, like BLM Louisville, along with local and state leaders joined the sea of protesters in support. 

Several rally-goers chanted "stand up, fight back," saying a fundamental right has been stripped away.

That includes Sarah Martin, who shared her personal story with us.

"When I was 20 years old, I was date-raped and ended up pregnant. I was not in a position financially, mentally and emotionally to be pregnant," Martin said. "It's a life or death situation. [And you'll have] young girls who feel they have no other options."

There were also two young folks at the rally who told us their motivation. WHAS11 talked to 19-year-old Edler and 22-year-old Jazaisha, who both work at the Muhammad Ali Center.

Edler said he is a University of Louisville student and MLK scholar who decided to come out and show support.

For Jazaisha, it's personal.

"For African-American women in the community, it's a continuation of what's already been happening," she said.

Some who stood up to the mic and spoke on the steps of Metro Hall said the fight isn't over, and they're encouraging voters to head to the ballot boxes come November.

Referenced often were calls to "vote no" on a proposed Kentucky constitutional amendment on the November ballot. If passed, it would declare nothing in the state constitution creates a right to abortion. That would make any efforts to overturn state trigger laws going forward essentially impossible.

While they didn't hold rallies Friday, Louisville pro-life supporters are celebrating the Supreme Court's ruling.

Kentucky Family Foundation Executive Director David Walls said Friday was a historic day.

"Roe v. Wade was the most unjust decision in the history of our nation, directly led to the probably close to 64 million unborn babies being lost in the womb," Walls said.

Kentucky Right to Life Executive Director Addia Wuchner also says Friday was a "monumental" day.

"A monumental combination of 50 years of advocacy, prayer, witnessing and work to establish what was always truth, the inalienable dignity and human rights of the child," Wuchner said.

Wuchner says Friday's decision corrects what she calls a terrible act of judicial activism by the Supreme Court with Roe v. Wade.

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