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Abortion clinic buffer zone bill passed by Louisville Metro Council

Published: May. 20, 2021 at 11:36 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Activists will no longer be able to protest directly in front of health facilities in Louisville, namely the EMW Women’s Surgical Center. The clinic is one of the state’s two operating abortion clinics.

Metro Council voted in favor of implementing a 10-foot buffer zone outside of clinics during a meeting Thursday night.

The council voted 14-11 in favor of adding the buffer zone, which will keep protesters and activists from standing in front of doors at healthcare facilities as patients enter and exit.

Erin Smith, the Kentucky Health Justice Network executive director, explained the measure comes down to people having the ability to walk into a clinic and get medical attention peacefully. She said the EMW Women’s Surgical Center in downtown Louisville has been ground zero for anti-abortion protests for years.

“I can still hear you, I can still see you,” Smith said. “You can still get your message to me and protect the first amendment.”

Smith said she thinks it’s about time the city looks after people and their safety while preserving their rights.

“No one should be harassed. No one should be assaulted going to get medical treatment, no matter the reason,” she said.

However, that’s not the way Bob DeVor, a pro-life activiest, sees it.

“We’re all the same,” he said “Same blood, same heart, two hands, one mind. That’s the whole point. We’re here not only for the truth but life itself.”

Ruth Anne Shumate-Reed, another pro-life advocate, says it’s important to speak to a potential mother before going in for a procedure that can’t be undone.

“We want to save those women,” Shumate-Reed said. “Save those women and save their children.”

Metro Council members Cassie Chambers-Armstrong and Jecorey Arthur were the primary advocates of the buffer zone bill and cited constant police calls for service at the EMW Women’s Surgical Center.

Arthur said in the last 17-months, thousands of calls have been made there and in surrounding areas because of safety issues.

“One-thousand four-hundred and thirty-one incidents on this sidewalk in your downtown Louisville,” Arthur said during Thursday’s meeting. “That’s a very unsafe sidewalk.”

However, the pro-life group claimed they have saved lives, and even with the buffer zone in place, they’ll continue to pray and spread the word of help.

“We just give them information. If they want it, that’s fine. If not, we’ll just say a prayer for them,” Shumate-Reed said.

Any incidents surrounding the buffer zone will be reported to Metro Public Health and Wellness and LMPD.

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