Anti-choice nutjobs are once again laying siege to Kentucky's last abortion clinic in Louisville as GOP Gov. Matt Bevin wants to become the first governor to rid his state of abortion clinics in the Roe v Wade era.
Anti-abortion advocates began a weeklong series of protests Monday in hopes of shutting down Kentucky's last abortion clinic.
Protesters are gathered around the Gene Snyder United States Courthouse, where a hearing is set about a temporary buffer zone outside the clinic.
This week kicks off anti-abortion group Operation Save America's national gathering in Louisville. The gathering runs through July 29 and will feature protests in front of the clinic as well as a mobile electronic billboard depicting graphic images of abortion procedures.
A federal police officer said he estimated 150-200 people in the area at the intersection of Sixth Street and Broadway.
Enoch Yoder, 26, traveled eight hours from Missouri to protest at the courthouse and clinic.
"It's murder. Abortion is killing babies," Yoder said. "Plain and simple."
In May, 11 people were arrested in protests led by the anti-abortion group Operation Save America, after they blocked the entrance to the EMW Women's Surgical Center, 136 W. Market St.
As a result of the arrests in May, the U.S. Attorney's office in Louisville filed a motion on last week seeking to enforce the federal Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act, which bars people from blocking access to reproductive health centers.
The motion asked Hale to issue an order creating a buffer zone of about 15 by 7.5 feet in front of the clinic and asked that U.S. marshals and law enforcement officials be authorized to arrest anyone who violates the order.
The issue is, as Jessica Mason Pieklo reminded us back in May, that the Trump regime doesn't want to enforce federal laws that have been on the books for almost 25 years to protect physical access to clinics. Operation Save America is merely the reboot of Operation Rescue, the religious assholes who precipitated the murder of abortion provider Dr. David Gunn in Florida in 1993. It's led by Rusty Thomas, who is a real piece of work:
Pay attention to Thomas’ framing here around Saturday’s Louisville siege. “We never go to protest anything,” said Thomas in his interview with the Courier-Journal. “We are ministers of the gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and we go to proclaim through word and through Godly action, his great truths and his great Salvation and also to confront our national evil and national sin called abortion and … to rescue these children who are being led to slaughter and provide for them a defense and a voice.”
Thomas and other activists calling themselves ministers is intentional. It is an attempt to invoke legal protections around communications like anti-choice activist Angel Dillard successfully did to protect her jailhouse communications with Scott Roeder—who was associated with Operation Rescue—in her trial for threatening Dr. Mila Means, the abortion provider set to take over Tiller’s practice following his murder by Roeder.
It’s also an attempt to paint their activities as “religious exercise,” to advance their likely claims that attacking clinics is part of their right to full “civic engagement.”
Saturday’s siege by OSA was a test on several fronts: It was a test of local law enforcement to advance the group’s philosophy of the “lesser magistrate” doctrine. That doctrine, which is rooted in conservative Christianity, argues law enforcement officers are justified in opposing policies or orders they consider unjust or morally wrong. Roeder used a variation of the lesser magistrate doctrine to argue Tiller’s murder was a “justifiable homicide,” because it prevented the doctor from continuing to provide abortions. Robert Lewis Dear, the man who has admitted to holding siege a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood and killing three, suggested in his legal competency hearing last year that heintended to raise a justifiable homicide defense as well if he ever stands trial. And anti-choice activists, including OSA, argue that it supports local officers’ failure to endorse noise ordinances or trespassing laws in situations like Saturday’s and other protests.
The attack on the Louisville clinic was also a test of Republican Gov. Matt Bevin, who has made no secret about his goal of closing it. The clinic—the last in the state—currently remains open by federal court order, after the governor helped push regulations designed to close it. Bevin has met with OSA leadership, and they consider him an ally. As a result, the group has focused its efforts in Kentucky.
In fact, Thomas told the Courier-Journal the group would be back in July: “That is a tremendous opportunity before you all to become the first surgically abortion-free state in the United States of America and so, we’re praying Kentucky will lead the way out of this blood guiltiness that’s upon the land.”
Kentucky is the test. If any clinic is going to get shut down, it will be this one, in this state, by this governor. The Trump regime won't lift a finger to stop it. Whether the courts will is anyone's guess, but I'm betting that Thomas and his cult think they can get away with it.