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Judge Allows Temporary Buffer Zone Outside Louisville Women's Clinic


A federal judge decides today whether a buffer zone will remain indefinitely in front of the last clinic that provides abortions in Kentucky. It's the EMW Women's Surgical Center.

As Lisa Gillespie reports from our member station WFPL, the ruling is expected as a Christian group kicks off its week-long conference in Louisville.


LISA GILLESPIE, BYLINE: It's Sunday night in Louisville, and around 450 people are packed into a church here. An organizer from the fundamental Christian group Operation Save America is at the pulpit.


DAVID STREET: 59 million plus babies, murdered.

GILLESPIE: David Street and the others here are acutely aware that Louisville has become a battleground between those that believe a woman shouldn't have the choice of an abortion, and those that do. That's because there's only one place left to get an abortion in Kentucky.

One reason behind the recent closure of several of the state's clinics is Republican governor Matt Bevin. Health clinics that provide abortions here must have an agreement with a hospital to transfer a woman there if something goes wrong, and they must also have a contract with an ambulance company to provide transport in that situation. Bevin has gone after these agreements, saying they're not valid.

Meg Stern, a volunteer who escorts patients through anti-abortion protesters, said on a call last Thursday that Governor Bevin is using health and safety excuses in an attempt to ban abortion here.

MEG STERN: If the last clinic is closed it will be - amount to a ban on abortion in the entire state.

GILLESPIE: Ernest Marshall is the founder of the EMW Center.

ERNEST MARSHALL: He has claimed that his vendetta against abortion providers has to do with protecting women's health and safety, which couldn't be further from the truth.

GILLESPIE: Operation Save America is also trying to close down the EMW Center.

David Street, again, with OSA.


STREET: Since January 22, 1973, Satan has effectively deluded good people with the lie that abortion is a matter of law, and therefore, there is nothing we can do.

GILLESPIE: But there is something that people can do, is the message from OSA.

In May, 10 OSA protesters were arrested outside the EMW Center when they blocked the entrance. As a result, a judge granted a temporary restraining order to a Louisville federal attorney to keep those 10 people, and anyone associated with them, from entering a 15-foot buffer zone directly in front of the EMW door.

Vicki Saporta, with the National Abortion Federation, said on Thursday that this was critical.


VICKI SAPORTA: Lower level criminal activities are prosecuted. They don't tend to escalate into the kinds of arsons, bombings and murders that we've too often seen.

GILLESPIE: It seemed to have worked on Saturday morning - the first day of the buffer zone. It was quieter than expected.

But on Wednesday the group is planning on screening footage of an abortion on a jumbotron in front of Louisville's City Hall.

For NPR, I'm Lisa Gillespie in Louisville.

(SOUNDBITE OF BADBADNOTGOOD'S "HEDRON") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Lisa Gillespie