A pro-life group with controversial tactics plan to begin a week-long protest today outside the last abortion clinic in Kentucky.
Operation Save America plans to try to save women and babies from abortion and shut down EMW Women’s Clinic in Louisville as they protest this week. In May, police arrested several pro-lifers from the group when they blocked the entrance to the abortion facility, a controversial tactic even among pro-lifers.
According to Operation Save America, they risk “arrest to rescue their preborn neighbor.”
Ahead of the protests, last week a federal judge set up a buffer zone outside the abortion facility, barring the 10 protesters who were arrested in May and those affiliated with them, NPR reports. The buffer zone prohibits the pro-lifers from coming within 15 feet of the building.
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.
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Ante Pavkovic drove from North Carolina to participate in the conference this week.
“Our weapons are prayer, speaking, and just being out there where things are happening,” he said. “It’s persuasion and that’s as far as it can go.”
Most pro-life advocates stand outside peacefully praying, handing out materials or asking women if they can share information. However, abortion activists claim they are intimidating women.
Pavkovic told NPR that he does “rebuke” the sin of abortion outside the abortion clinic. He said the preaching can be “fiery” because abortion clinics are killing babies.
United States Marshalls are scheduled to be outside the clinic during the protests this week, the report states.
On Monday, the Courier Journal reported pro-life protesters were gathering outside the Gene Snyder United States Courthouse ahead of another hearing on the buffer zone. One police officer said there were about 200 people.
In a news release, the pro-life group described the protest 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.