Federal order moves protesters clear of abortion clinic entrance

Federal order moves protesters clear of abortion clinic entrance

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A federal judge has signed an order creating a buffer zone outside a downtown Louisville women's clinic.

EMW Women's Surgical Center, located at 136 W. Market St., is the only facility in Kentucky that performs abortions. The request for the order was made by federal prosecutors before this weekend's scheduled start of a week long vigil by a national anti-abortion group.

U.S. District Judge David Hale set the buffer zone at 15 feet from the front of the building to the patient drop-off zone and 7.5 feet from either side of the columns supporting the overhang at the EMW main entrance, a total of 15 feet. The area of the buffer zone will be set by white lines painted on the sidewalk and street.

The buffer zone is small, but protest organizers from Operation Save America say they will fight the order in court.

"Freedom of speech, freedom of religious expression, or freedom to redress grievances; we have a major grievance with the United States government," Rusty Thomas, National Director of Operation Save America said.

A hearing has been scheduled by Hale for July 25 on a request by the government that would keep any protesters from interfering with access to EMW.

"They want to get tough with us and try to keep us from being able to exercise our free speech, then the message is the same for the federal government as it was for the local government," Pastor Joseph Spurgeon said.

Spurgeon was the lead speaker Wednesday at a press conference outside Metro City Hall, and vowed to disobey any buffer zone imposed by the city.  He and other protest leaders say similar disobedience may come if the federal restraining order is allowed to stand.

"If it's a 12-inch square on the public sidewalk, what the Supreme Court calls the quintessential public forum, it's precious and should be precious to every American," said Chet Gallagher, Operation Save America Assistant Director.

A hearing has been scheduled by Hale for July 25 on a request by the government that would keep any protesters from interfering with access to EMW.

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