Louisville reacts to Supreme Court ruling on "buffer zone" for a - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Louisville reacts to Supreme Court ruling on "buffer zone" for abortion protestors

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- On Thursday the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a law that forces protesters to stay 35 feet away from abortion clinics.

The so called "buffer zone" ruling applies specifically to Massachusetts but some fear it will set new precedent across the country.

Peggy Strange says she was 23 years old when she had an abortion, and now she is proud to be one of those people in the crowd outside of abortion clinics.

"I stand with a sign that says I regret my abortion where they can read it," Strange said.

It's something she says she wishes someone would have done for her 27 years ago.

"If there would have been somebody out there to tell me the truth instead of the lies that was fed to me inside the abortion clinic when I went in then I would of had the baby," Strange said.

The unanimous vote from the U.S. Supreme Court allows protesters in Massachusetts to come closer to the front door of abortion clinics.

Justices found the 35-foot bubble rule violated free speech. The ruling does leave room for Massachusetts to go back and craft new, less restrictive protest zones.

It comes as hundreds of pro life supporters gather for the National Right to Life convention in Louisville. Margie Montgomery was one of those attending the convention.

"It means that we are making progress," Montgomery said. "And that those who are concerned about the killing of innocent, unborn babies should have the opportunity to give the women the information," Montgomery said.

We spoke by phone Thursday with Ann Ahola, Executive Director of EMW Women's Surgical Center. The company operates the only two abortion clinics in Kentucky. She called the ruling absurd.

"It's degrading that women in 2014 cannot make a choice and decide for their own healthcare without having people bullying and harassing them within inches of their face," Ahola said.

In Kentucky and Indiana there are no laws for buffer zones in front of abortion clinics. But some fear Supreme Court's ruling will make pro life protesters nationwide more brazen in their approach.

Derek Selznick with the Louisville ACLU chapter says the ruling could spell trouble.

"There's a significant chance for violence on the street in front of a healthcare center," Selznick said. "So once again I think law enforcement is going to have to be vigilant on this."

It is a new chapter in a decades old debate, and one Strange understands from both sides -- but she warns women to think hard before making the decision to end a pregnancy.

"It's going to take a part of your heart out," Strange said.

Federally the FACE act still stands. That makes it illegal for protesters to intimidate or use physical force like a blockade outside abortion clinics.

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