EMW Clinic.jpg

The EMW Women's Surgical Center. (WDRB Photo)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- There was more debate Wednesday over a proposed buffer zone outside of a Louisville abortion clinic. 

A Metro Council Committee held a hearing Wednesday afternoon about the buffer zone ordinance, filed by Councilwoman Cassie Chambers Armstrong, D-8.

If passed, the ordinance would allow health care facilities to create a 10-foot buffer zone to allow patients to enter and exit buildings safely, giving them space from protesters

The EMW Women's Surgical Center, one of the city's only clinics performing abortion, consistently has protesters demonstrating outside.

Chambers Armstrong, and others, believe the demonstrations have become too dangerous outside of the clinic in downtown Louisville. 

During Wednesday's meeting, volunteers at the clinic, professors and activists from across the country said it is harmful not having safety restrictions at the clinic.

"In my opinion, Louisville has some of the worst examples of sustained, unabated and dangerous anti-abortion harassment and intimidation in the country," duVergne Gaines, with the National Clinic Access Project, said. 

Supporters of the buffer zone say it's needed to protect patients trying to access medical care. 

"We are not debating anyone's reproductive decisions. We seek to clear a small area of sidewalk so that people can enter the facility without obstruction," Meg Stern, who has volunteered as an escort at EMW since 1990, said. "The situation outside of the EMW has been allowed to escalate and following property damage, injuries and arrests, it's clear the existing laws are not enough."

Those against the buffer zone claim it would stifle their right to free speech.

"The buffer zone would severely restrict sidewalk counselors' ability to offer women in an unplanned pregnancy life-saving alternatives to abortion," sidewalk counselor Ed Harping said. "I want to echo those words that a buffer zone would restrict freedom of speech."

The ordinance now heads to the full council next week.

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