Pro-life sidewalk counselors won another victory last week in their effort to save unborn babies from abortion outside the EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville, the largest abortion facility in Kentucky.
In May, the Louisville Metro Council narrowly approved a buffer zone that would restrict pro-lifers’ life-saving efforts around the abortion facility. However, the city agreed to delay enforcing the ordinance again last week after pro-life advocates sued the city, Kentucky Today reports.
“Kentucky Right to Life and all of our pro-woman, pro-life advocates are pleased that our pursuit of litigation has resulted in the city permitting sidewalk counseling ministry to continue by extending the temporary emergency injunction as we await Judge Jennings’ decision on the matter,” said Addia Wuchner, executive director of Kentucky Right to Life, one of the organizations challenging the ordinance.
The city initially agreed not to enforce the ordinance until July 16 after Kentucky Right to Life and Sisters for Life filed their lawsuit. On July 15, however, the city agreed to delay enforcement again until the court rules, according to the report.
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In their lawsuit, the pro-life leaders accuse the city of a “not-so-clever gerrymander to restrict an entire city block from being accessed” by pro-life advocates, WDRB News reports. They said the ordinance “is an insidious content and viewpoint-based speech gerrymander, designed to squelch dissenting speech, and the practice of sincerely held religious beliefs, in the vicinity of EMW.”
Though the ordinance technically applies to all health care facilities in the city, it specifically mentions the EMW abortion facility; and it was apparent from abortion activists’ and some council members’ statements that restricting pro-life advocacy is the goal.
The ordinance prohibits protesters from coming within 10 feet of the abortion facility. It orders the city Public Works to mark the zone with lines on the sidewalk outside the EMW Women’s Surgical Center, which aborts approximately 3,000 unborn babies annually. Anyone who violates the ordinance may be punished with fines up to $500.
Sisters for Life and Kentucky Right to Life emphasized in the lawsuit that their outreach is peaceful and compassionate.
“Sidewalk ministry is not loud, obnoxious or confrontational,” the lawsuit states. Pro-life sidewalk advocates approach women offering information and support, a “much more effective means of dissuading women from having abortions than confrontational methods such as shouting, brandishing signs, blocking access, loud speakers, or other methods which, in Plaintiffs’ view, tend only to alienate their intended audience.”
Abortion activists have been pressuring the Louisville Metro Council to pass a buffer zone for years, but pro-life advocates expressed hope that the ordinance will be ruled unconstitutional.
“I feel it’s unconstitutional,” Wuchner told the Catholic News Agency. “You’re in effect giving a private business the right to that sidewalk, which is a public entity paid for by taxpayers.”
Pro-life sidewalk counselors do save lives. In 2020, Sidewalk Advocates for Life celebrated helping 10,000 mothers choose life for their unborn babies in its six years of ministry. They encourage mothers to give their babies a chance at life and connect them with community resources, including pregnancy resource centers, that provide financial and material help.