A federal judge set up a buffer zone outside the last abortion clinic in Kentucky on Friday to keep pro-life protesters away from the area.
The ruling comes ahead of a protest planned for next week by the group Operation Save America, which uses controversial tactics to protest abortion. In May, police arrested several pro-lifers from the group when they blocked the entrance to EMW Women’s Clinic in Louisville, Kentucky.
The arrests were part of a planned effort by the group Operation Save America to risk “arrest to rescue their preborn neighbor,” according to the group.
Federal prosecutors requested a buffer zone from U.S. District Judge David Hale on Thursday, and Hale granted the emergency request Friday ahead of the planned protest, the AP reports.
WAVE News 3 reports more:
U.S. District Judge David Hale set the buffer zone at 15 feet from the front of the building to the patient drop-off zone and 7.5 feet from either side of the columns supporting the overhang at the EMW main entrance, a total of 15 feet. The area of the buffer zone will be set by white lines painted on the sidewalk and street.
The buffer zone will be in place starting two hours before the opening of EMW until two hours after the clinic closes. Because the temporary restraining order was issued by a federal court, it could be enforced by U.S. Marshals.
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As reported by the Huffington Post, the order appears to apply specifically to protesters with the group Operation Save America, though it’s questionable how that would be determined by police. Pro-life sidewalk advocates also stand outside abortion facilities regularly to counsel women, sometimes as part of an affiliated group like 40 Days for Life and sometimes just as individuals.
During the May protest, Rusty Thomas, the national director of Operation Save America, said they knew they might be arrested, but they took the chance because they wanted to save babies’ lives from abortion through interposition.
“Now interposition takes place when one stands in the gap between the oppressor and the intended victim. And by standing in the gap, rescues the victim from the oppressor’s hand,” Thomas said.
In a news release, the group described the demonstration as a “historic event … crossing a line that has not been crossed for close to 20 years.”
The tactic of blocking abortion clinics is highly controversial in the pro-life movement because it is illegal. Blocking abortion facilities, sometimes called “rescues,” were more frequent in the 1980s and 1990s, but they have become almost non-existent in the past 20 years.
The idea is that, through a non-violent violation of the law, pro-lifers can block the entrances to abortion facilities and prevent women from having their unborn babies aborted. The pro-lifers who do this argue that violating the law is worth it to save a baby’s life.
However, many pro-life groups prohibit illegal activity of any kind. They argue that there are better legal strategies to protect babies’ lives while Roe v. Wade remains, including through peaceful sidewalk counseling, pregnancy resource centers, informed consent laws, and more.