Pro-choice protest takes place outside Boyle County Courthouse

Published 4:20 pm Friday, July 1, 2022

Vera Benthal was a kid herself when she had her first child.

At the time, abortion was legal in Kentucky. Today, Benthal, a native of Danville, is a mother of two. Still, she says she is pro-choice and voiced her concerns with about 50 other people Wednesday who demonstrated in front of the Boyle County Courthouse in protest of the U.S. Supreme Court’s reversal last week of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 benchmark decision that guaranteed Constitutional protection of a woman’s right to abortion for nearly 50 years.

“I was 17 years old when I had my first child, and I don’t think I could have gone down that road personally; however, terrible situations do arise sometimes, and people really don’t want the child or the memory,” she said.

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Benthal could not believe it when Roe was overturned and said the decision struck her deeply.

“It’s concerning and disheartening that we are owned by someone, and that just should not be the case,” she said.

For event organizer and pro-choice advocate Michaela Cole, this fight for women’s rights is nothing new. Cole spoke on how women have fought time and again for their rights throughout history.

“It just takes action to make a change,” Cole said.

Her mission is to ultimately have women make their decisions for their own bodies. Cole said she was upset at the court’s decision. In Kentucky, a trigger law passed by the state legislature in 2019 would make abortions illegal statewide in the event Roe v. Wade was overturned. The only caveat in the Kentucky law is in the event carrying a pregnancy to term would threaten the mother’s life. There is no provision in the Kentucky law for rape or incest.

“I’m trying to change women’s rights, because men can do it; so why can’t we change it back.” Cole said.

Unity is a big part of the fight for Cole, who organized the local protest over Facebook, where she connected with many strangers over a common cause.

“Using your voice is important,” she said. “I don’t know everyone here but we are all together fighting for something we care about and making our voices heard.”

The gathering was populated with women and men of all ages.

Gavin Holt, a student at Centre and a Lincoln County native was there to support women in their fight.

“I’m here as a man showing that this isn’t just a women’s fight, it’s everyone’s fight,” Holt said.

Holt talked about how the ruling by the Supreme Court made him and others feel like the government doesn’t care about them or their rights. From Holt’s perspective, the best way to make their voices heard is for all “allies” to come together and fight.

Holt was not the only one at the protest who felt betrayed by the Supreme Court’s decision. Wayne Burke, a Danville native says he is pro-life in most circumstances, but joined the demonstration to speak out against rights he says the Supreme Court might overturn in the future, such as same-sex marriage.

“Things in Washington need to change,” he said. 

“If a woman has a physical or mental problem due to pregnancy, the decision she makes is between her and her doctor; the Supreme Court needs to stay out of it.”