Louisville city authorities are considering a request from abortion activist to set up a buffer zone outside the last abortion facility in Kentucky.
WDRB reports pro-life advocates and abortion activists attended a Metro Council meeting Wednesday to express opposition or support of the proposed 20-foot buffer zone outside EMW Women’s Clinic in Louisville, the only abortion facility in the state.
The council has not yet taken action on the proposed buffer zone. According to the local news, they have not even drafted a proposed ordinance.
At one point during the meeting, local pastor and pro-life advocate Joseph Spurgeon insisted that he would not obey a buffer zone, if enacted, according to the report.
“Respect the unborn children,” Spurgeon shouted. “Respect our free speech. We will not obey buffer zone laws!”
After council members repeatedly called for order and Spurgeon continued to shout, police escorted him out of the meeting, the report states.
Abortion advocate Kate Cunningham urged the council to enact the buffer zone, or what she called a “safety zone.” She claimed it will protect the abortion clinic’s patients from harassment.
Louisville police said the atmosphere outside the Louisville facility has become “much more aggressive” recently.
In May, a group of pro-lifers conducted a controversial demonstration outside the abortion clinic, and 11 were arrested. The arrests were part of a planned effort by the group Operation Save America to block the clinic entrance and risk “arrest to rescue their preborn neighbor,” according to the group.
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Louisville police said they asked the pro-lifers to stop blocking the entrance and leave several times; when the pro-lifers did not, they were arrested and charged with criminal trespassing.
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 going inside and 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 also working to end legalized abortion, including through peaceful sidewalk counseling, pregnancy resource centers, informed consent laws and more.
Buffer zones are controversial, and courts have struck down a number of them in the United States. In 2014, the United States Supreme Court unanimously struck down a Massachusetts buffer zone law, saying it restricted pro-life advocates’ freedom of speech.
In May, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals also ruled in favor of pro-life advocates from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, who said the city buffer zone ordinance violated their freedom of speech.
Abortion activists accuse pro-life advocates of harassing patients, but most pro-life sidewalk counselors are peaceful and respectful. Pro-lifers know that women are more likely to talk and be receptive to information about alternatives to abortion when they are approached with care and compassion.