LOUISVILLE, Ky. — A federal judge has granted a temporary restraining order that prevents 10 individuals who had been arrested in May for blocking the doors of Kentucky’s last abortion facility from doing so again this weekend during a pro-life rally in Louisville.
“The United States has demonstrated the imminent risk of irreparable injury in the form of interference with EMW’s patients’ and their escorts’ access to reproductive health services; interference with EMW’s provision of reproductive health services to its patients; and risks to public safety, all injuries which cannot be fully compensated through monetary damages,” he wrote.
“Defendants … are hereby temporarily restrained from using physical obstruction to intentionally interfere with any person, or attempting to intentionally interfere with any person, because the person was or had been obtaining or providing reproductive health services at EMW,” Hale said.
He also granted a request for a buffer zone that would keep the 10—and anyone participating in the event—from coming onto the abortion facility property. Hale noted, however, that his order “does not restrict any of the rights of the defendants, including their First Amendment rights, outside the zone.” He stated that it likewise is not applicable when the business is closed.
While organizers of Operation Save America’s event, which runs through July 29, did not plan to block the doors during the gathering, Joseph Spurgeon, the pastor of Sovereign King Church and a local leader for Operation Save America, noted on social media on Saturday that the government still sent federal marshals to keep pro-lifers away from the facility.
“The federal government, ran by Donald Trump, is serious about protecting baby murder. The U.S. marshals had the abortion mill surrounded to protect it today,” he wrote.
Spurgeon also lamented efforts to keep Christians away from the building during a press conference on Wednesday.
“Church-going men and women in Louisville and the surrounding area in both Kentucky and Indiana who come out to plead with women not to get an abortion, who hold signs depicting both the gruesome reality of murder and the beauty of life, and who preach the gospel, are now considered far more dangerous than the ones who are killing innocent children,” he declared.
“Those killers (abortionists) now need protection from hearing the free speech of Christian men, women and children. Christians who love babies and would gladly adopt any of the preborn children who are being taken to be slaughtered are considered dangerous,” Spurgeon said. “They are dangerous because they try to talk women out of getting abortions. They might convince women to keep their children rather than murder them.”
As previously reported, on May 13, dozens of abortion opponents from across the country gathered outside of EMW Women’s Clinic to preach the gospel and stand for life. Some of those present, including a pastor, a Holocaust survivor, a missionary and several youth, sat in front of the entrance to the facility, a practice commonly known in the 1990’s as a rescue.
Police were called to the scene and witnessed some sitting on the ground in front of the main door to the facility. Rescuers were asked to leave the premises, but refused. Some reports state that they rather linked arms.
Operation Rescue/Operation Save America outlined in a statement that those involved believed that preventing murder superseded the consequence of arrest.
“In the battle to end abortion, the American holocaust, these rescuers have counted the cost and are willing to pay the price to protect the lives of their preborn neighbors,” it stated. “These rescuers are exercising the Christian doctrine of interposition. Interposition takes place when one stands in the gap between a strong oppressor and a victim in order to rescue the victim from the oppressor’s hands.”
Police proceeded to arrest those blocking the entrance to the abortion facility. They were charged with trespassing and released. There were 11 arrested, but only 10 names have been released as one was a minor. A trial is scheduled for September.
The federal government, which requested the buffer zone this week under the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE), signed into law by then-President Bill Clinton, has also asked Judge Hale to order the 10 to pay monetary damages to those who were unable to use the abortion facility in May because the doors were blocked.
The ACLU’s Reproductive Freedom Project applauded Hale’s temporary restraining order on Friday, asserting that “[n]o one should be prevented from a medical appointment by an egregious blockade of their health care provider.”