Federal judge to hear case Monday about keeping buffer zone at L - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Federal judge to hear case Monday about keeping buffer zone at Louisville abortion clinic

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A federal judge approved a temporary measure calling for a buffer zone to separate protesters from Kentucky's only abortion clinic. 

The U.S. Attorney's office in Louisville filed a motion to enforce the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances act, which restricts protesters from blocking entrances to abortion clinics. Anyone violating the law could face federal charges. 

U. S. District Judge David Hale granted a temporary restraining order on Friday, which will enforce a buffer zone surrounding the entrance to the clinic. The lawsuit says the buffer zone is approximately 15 feet from south to north and 7.5 feet from east to west, extending from the EMW property line to the patient drop zone. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on Monday. 

The EMW Women's Surgical Center on West Market Street is being targeted by Operation Save America. Hundreds of anti-abortion protesters are expected in downtown Louisville over the next week. 

Rusty Thomas, head of the Christian fundamentalist group, says the government's case is "very thin," based on a "false narrative." He says the government is not God, and says the government doesn't have authority to "choose who lives and who dies."

Thomas says he does not agree with what is in the federal court complaint.

“A complete fabrication that I somehow called 1,000 people to come to Louisville, Kentucky to blockade the doors,” Thomas said.

The group plans a series of rallies, events and protests. They also plan to set up a jumbotron in Jefferson Square Park, according to the organization's Joseph Spurgeon. "They'll be showing pro-life videos. I'm sure some of it will be graphic in nature. It'll actually show what an abortion is, what it looks like." 

Brigitte Amiri, Senior Staff Attorney for the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, issued a statement saying that the restraining order is just a first step. "Today, a judge provided a small measure of relief to patients at EMW Women's Surgical Center by creating a modest buffer zone to ensure patients may enter the health care center. While the government may not keep people off the public sidewalk lightly, the individuals who blockaded EMW have a clear record of breaking the law.  No one should be prevented from a medical appointment by an egregious blockade of their health care provider.”
 
Clinic leaders are prepared with more security and escorts for their clients.  But Louisville Metro Police said it does not plan to set up barriers. But it is an option, if needed. 

The same organization protested at the clinic in May. Eleven people were arrested. Spurgeon was among those arrested.  He told a Metro Council hearing in June that the protesters will not obey the buffer zone. 

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