‘A very unsafe situation.’ Protesters in Lexington rally in support of abortion rights.

·3 min read

Responding to a leaked draft Supreme Court decision that would overturn Roe v. Wade, a few hundred people gathered outside the Fayette County courthouses in Lexington Saturday in support of abortion rights.

The Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights protest in Lexington was one of many held across the country Saturday.

Julia Blake, who organized the Lexington event, said she hopes “the momentum from today” will motivate legislators “to represent the people who put them in power.”

“We’re urging people to get out and vote,” she said. “This is a nonpartisan issue. This is a human rights issue.”

Protesters cheer and gather outside the courthouse during the Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights protest in downtown Lexington, Ky., Saturday, May 14, 2022.
Protesters cheer and gather outside the courthouse during the Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights protest in downtown Lexington, Ky., Saturday, May 14, 2022.

Protesters chanted “Not the church and not the state, only we decide our fate” and “Our bodies, our choices,” cheering as passing cars honked their approval.

Alyssa Linehan said in an interview that she felt it was important to attend to show support for other young women who might be facing an abortion.

“I actually had an abortion myself when I was 17 years old,” she said.

She said she was living in Indiana at the time, and because the law required parental consent for an abortion, she drove 11 hours to New York, where she could have the procedure without parental permission.

“I went by myself, and I drove overnight,” Linehan said.

She still remembers the woman she met when she arrived at Planned Parenthood who gave her gift cards for gas and snacks for the drive.

“It created a very unsafe situation for myself,” she said of the experience. “I want to make sure that never happens to another young girl.”

Diane Fleet and Keiko Tanaka both said they marched in support of keeping abortion legal back in the 1980s.

“I can’t believe we’re still here,” said Fleet, who said she works for a domestic violence program. “Women’s reproductive health is critical for what we do.”

During the latter part of the protest, several people set up a tent on the courthouse lawn and began preaching into a loudspeaker, stating that abortion is murder.

“The Messiah is coming,” Heri Bandyatuyaga said. “Repent! Repent! Repent!”

A driver passes the Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights protest holding a sign outside the courthouse in downtown Lexington, Ky., Saturday, May 14, 2022.
A driver passes the Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights protest holding a sign outside the courthouse in downtown Lexington, Ky., Saturday, May 14, 2022.

Cory Powell, of Richmond, Ind., said “God brought me here to preach against this.”

Small groups of protesters engaged with them, sometimes in heated discussion, at one point chanting “Hey hey, ho ho, the patriarchy has got to go.”

Jenni Link brought a sign to the protest that stated “Your mom wants bodily autonomy” on one side and “Your mom wants religious freedom” on the other.

She said she’s a mother who wants her daughter “to have the ability to choose the direction of her life, and you can’t do that if you’re forced to give birth when you’re not ready.”

“We understand how serious it is to bring life into the world and what is required,” Link said. “You understand what a serious health decision it is for you personally to bear a child, and the resources it takes to raise a child. It should be your personal decision between you and your doctor.”

Cathy Perkins said making birth control free and available to all “would naturally end a lot of unwanted pregnancies.”

“If you don’t like abortion, then fix the problem,” she said.

Protesters cheer and gather outside the courthouse during the Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights protest in downtown Lexington, Ky., Saturday, May 14, 2022.
Protesters cheer and gather outside the courthouse during the Rise Up 4 Abortion Rights protest in downtown Lexington, Ky., Saturday, May 14, 2022.
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