National anti-abortion group aims to shut down Kentucky's last clinic

Updated: Jul. 19, 2017 at 8:27 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Anti-abortion group "Operation Save America" is planning a week-long series of national demonstrations in Louisville.  The group's goal is to down the state's last abortion clinic.

Protests at Louisville's EMW Women's Surgical Center and other locations will start Saturday and continue through July 29.

Organizer Pastor Joseph Spurgeon spoke to reporters outside City Hall Wednesday and criticized the Metro Council's proposal to establish a 20-foot buffer zone around the clinic. Spurgeon said if the buffer zone is implemented, then demonstrators have the right to violate it.

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"Christians have the duty to obey God rather than man," Spurgeon said. "If the Metro Council attempts to stop Christians from being able to use public sidewalks to proclaim the gospel, we will have no option but to disobey."

Public comment on the buffer zone was heard by the Metro Council on Wednesday. There is no document or resolution to present to the public and no vote is scheduled.

Spurgeon explained that the actions of Operation Save America are protected as acts of both free speech and religious expression. He suggested a link between abortions performed at the clinic and the ongoing deadly violence in the city.

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"We look at violence in the streets. and in the west end in particular, and we wonder how to stop it," Spurgeon said. "Do you really think God will help us stop the violence in our streets when we have sanctioned killing that the Metro Council is about to meet to protect?"

Metro Council members questioned the LMPD's readiness for the upcoming demonstrations. The LMPD plans to protect the demonstrators' rights to free speech with some ground rules. Police will not allow any violence, vandalism or trespassing from people trying to block access to the clinic.

Ten demonstrators were arrested after blocking the entrance to EMW in May. This time, organizers promise to be law abiding. Spurgeon said the group has "no plans for anyone to get arrested."

In addition to the clinic and outside city hall, Spurgeon said there will also be demonstrations outside the neighborhoods where two of the EMW doctors live.

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