A week has passed since the decision that changed this country forever, and small towns in America are getting organized.

In Owensboro, Kentucky, home to 60,000 people, a group of about 200 marched down Main Street past a donut shop and bourbon bar.

They were mostly women and they were furious that the constitutional right to choose abortion was being taken away.

Together they chanted in collective outrage, “keep your rosaries out of my ovaries” and “my body, my choice”, but among them were those who were driven by intensely personal pain.

Hadley Duvall was 12 when she became pregnant by her abusive stepfather, who is currently serving 20 years in prison.

“The abuse went on for a long time,” she said.

“I’m lucky there was only one pregnancy and I had a choice, and I feel like everyone in this situation should have a choice.”

Hadley, now 20, said she was upset when the Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 decision, known as Roe v Wade, which gave women nationwide the right to choose an abortion.

“I was sick,” she said.

“My heart broke for the little girl that I was, and for the other little girls that are still here, because it happens and it’s not just a fantasy.

“It’s not just something that only happens in movies. It’s real.”

She said women should have the right to choose what happens to their bodies under all circumstances, not just in particularly traumatic situations.

“We may not make a change this year,” she said, “but I know I’ll never hold my tongue again, no matter what, even if there was a change , I will always speak for the people.”

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Hadley Duval

In this vast country, a legal patchwork of abortion haves and have-nots is taking shape.

In Kentucky, the right to choose was removed last Friday and is now temporarily reinstated after a judge issued a legal restraining order.

But, in a state where the majority of adults think abortion should be illegal in all or most cases, it’s unlikely to last long.

Marjorie FitzGerald, who worked at EMW – one of two abortion clinics in Louisville – for six years, said the changes were particularly tragic for poor women who cannot travel to other states where the Abortion is an option.

“The closest state for our patients would be Illinois and for a lot of those patients they can’t get time off from work, they have child care and transportation costs and sometimes a waiting period .

“It means a lack of procedure or sometimes an attempt to take matters into your own hands.”

Read more:
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President Biden warns ‘women’s health and lives at risk’
Roe v Wade: How did we get here?

But for some, Roe’s knockdown gave rise to opportunities.

On the same stretch of sidewalk right next to the EMW Clinic is a similar looking building called BSideU.

But it’s not an abortion clinic, it’s a so-called pregnancy resource center, one of 2,500 such facilities across America.

Many of them provide free ultrasounds and claim to offer information on alternatives to abortion. But experts accuse them of giving false or misleading information to coerce women into continuing their pregnancies.

Some of the women who are treated at BSideU are referred to a white clapboard home on the outskirts of Louisville, occupied by Lifehouse Maternity Home.

There are rocking chairs on the porch and a kids play area out back and they have had a 50% increase in inquiries over the past week.

It is run by evangelical Christians and funded by donations from churches and individuals.

Dolli Neikerk runs the Lifehouse maternity home
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Dolli Neikerk

Its executive director, Dolli Neikerk, gives a tour of the interior, including a Bible study room and a spacious wardrobe of baby clothes. Dolli celebrated when she heard the news that Roe v Wade had been cancelled.

“We don’t do cell showers, we do baby showers,” she said.

“I think deep down every woman knows that when she’s pregnant, she’s pregnant with a baby.

“We have to support her and help her to become a parent or to make an adoption decision.”

Dolli said Lifehouse Maternity Home has housed pregnant girls and women between the ages of 13 and 38.

I asked her if she was concerned that encouraging a 13-year-old girl to pursue a pregnancy after a rape would aggravate the trauma.

“I can tell you from the experiences we’ve had here, in both situations, these babies were placed for adoption (with) loving families,” she said.

“And so I think it gives this young mum the opportunity to make a decision that’s best for her and she’s already been traumatized. So we shouldn’t add to that trauma.”

Lifehouse Maternity Home in Kentucky
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Lifehouse Maternity Home in Kentucky

For Dolli and the women on the march to Owensboro, it is unlikely there will be much convergence on an issue that provokes such strong feeling on both sides.

Abortion in America is completely polarizing and as such there will be no balance here, only ugly and ever-deepening division.

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