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Update on Buffer Zone5:19 PM | July 15, 2021
“Kentucky Right to Life and all of our prowoman prolife advocates are pleased that our pursuit of litigation has resulted in the city permitting sidewalk counseling ministry to continue by extending the temporary emergency injunction as we await Judge Jennings’ decision on the matter” - Addia Wuchner, Executive Director, Kentucky Right to Life.
TESSA REDMOND | July 8, 2021 | Kentucky Today
Louisville Metro Government calls for summary judgment in ‘buffer zone’ lawsuit
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (KT) – Louisville Metro Government filed the final brief regarding its motion to dismiss a pro-life lawsuit opposing the contentious “buffer zone” ordinance on Wednesday.
The lawsuit was first filed on June 8 by Ky Right to Life and Sisters for Life, a pro-life sidewalk counseling ministry, on the grounds that the ordinance infringed upon their constitutional rights of free speech and free exercise of religion. Attorneys reached a temporary agreement until July 16, when the buffer zone surrounding the EMW Women’s Surgical Center, one of two women’s health clinics providing abortions in the state, will go into effect.
This final brief, submitted by Jefferson County Attorney Michael O’Connell, follows both a memorandum opposing the city’s motion and a reply seeking injunctive relief, which was filed by the plaintiffs in Western District Court on June 28.
“The Ordinance does not violate or substantially burden any of plaintiffs’ constitutional rights,” the brief read.
“The Ordinance creates time, place and manner restrictions on speech and assembly outside of healthcare facilities to ensure the safety of patients entering and exiting such facilities and to provide enforcement officers with bright-line rules which are both significant and legitimate government interests.”
In response to the lawsuit’s allegation that the ordinance is overbroad and restricts religious, pro-life speech, the brief claims the ordinance is content-neutral — meaning it “does not attempt to regulate the content of any individual’s speech” within the buffer zone outside of the EMW.
“Any restriction of plaintiff’s speech, freedom of assembly, and free exercise of religion are minimal and justified by the government’s significant interest in the subject Ordinance,” the brief read.
Under the ordinance, healthcare facilities are not required to establish buffer zones and must request one from Public Works. According to the brief, the EMW is the only facility to request the ordinance “given the unique and long history of violence and harassment at this location.”
Addia Wuchner, executive director of Ky Right to Life, stated there is a difference between sidewalk counseling ministry and protesting, which Metro Government identified as “assault, harassment, stalking and intimidation” in its reply.
“Our case is defending the right of sidewalk counselors, which is a ministry, to meet women and to present them with alternatives at a very critical moment in their life,” Wuchner said. “The buffer zone prevents that opportunity for more intimate communication.”
SIDEWALK COUNSELORS CONTINUE!
The parties have agreed that Ordinance O-179-21 (the “Ordinance”), prohibiting the sidewalk ministry from practicing their religious freedoms for half a city block claiming it is a “buffer zone” to EMW’s property, will not be enforced until July 16, 2021 in order to allow the attorneys involved to complete briefings.
Attorney Chris Wiest, who represents those having their rights violated by the Ordinance, stated, “I consider this a win in the first round, because it allows the ministry to continue.”
Addia Wuchner said, “We are pleased that our attorney has been able to broker a temporary agreement as we prepare for a full hearing in Western District Court. As a pro-life, pro-women organization, we believe that sidewalk ministry plays an important role in a woman’s right to have fully informed consent.”
A new and good wrinkle in the Buffer Zone (BZ) controversy in Louisville has arisen.
We are glad to report that Angela Minter and her organization, Sisters For Life, together with Kentucky Right To Life, filed a lawsuit seeking an injunction against Louisville Metro, Mayor Greg Fisher, Louisville Metro Police Chief Ericka Shields, and Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell against Louisville’s new BZ ordinance, on the grounds that the new ordinance violates their free speech rights and prohibits them from practicing their faith.
The Sisters For Life regularly minister to women at the EMW abortion clinic in Louisville. In 2019, EMW performed 99.5% of all abortions in Kentucky. Angela and Sisters for Life saved 800 babies from having their lives cut short by ministering to women and their partners and revealing other life choices available to them for their child other than abortion, including adoption, free housing during and after the pregnancy, free child care, free help with college tuition if they choose not to abort their child, parenting resources including diapers, formula, clothes, parenting classes, counseling and more, such as information about child development that shows parents how developed their child is at the particular stage of their pregnancy.
Angela and Sisters For Life consider it essential to maintain a caring demeanor, a calm tone of voice, and direct eye contact while ministering to people on the sidewalk outside of the abortion clinic. They do not yell, protest with signs, or block the path. They walk beside women sharing information.
On May 20, 2021, the Metro Council passed Ordinance O-179-21 (the “Ordinance”), in a 14-11 divided vote prohibiting the sidewalk ministry from practicing their religious freedoms for half a city block claiming it is a “buffer zone” to EMW’s property.
Why are Louisville Metro Council, Mayor Fisher, Chief Shields and Attorney O’Connell so interested in limiting a women’s right to information? —in this instance, not only her rights to information about her body, services available to her family, but information some believe could protect her soul.
Margaret Sanger, who strategically placed abortion clinics in low-income black neighborhoods in a covert effort at genocide, proudly boasted that it was cheaper to kill poor children before they are born than to sustain them on welfare after birth.
If you limit a woman’s access to information, you limit her options
Chris Wiest, the attorney who filed the lawsuit, stated: “The City of Louisville should know better than to pass this flagrantly unconstitutional ordinance and we look forward to having it struck down.”
Addia Wuchner, Executive Director of Kentucky Right to Life issued the following statement: “Kentucky Right to Life and our members were disappointed by the decision to utilize buffer zones at the EMW abortion clinic. The Supreme Court has previously affirmed the sidewalk counselor ministry ensuring that women have the opportunity to make a fully informed consent. Kentucky Right to Life will continue to advocate for the protection of the unborn child and the First Amendment right of citizens to peacefully gather, pray, support women, and respectively bear witness in defense of innocent life. We stand in full support of the injunction filed by Angela Minter and Sisters for Life.”
Donna was attacked at EMW clinic on 4-12. She has had surgery and is doing well. She should be released from the hospital tomorrow, 4-16, and then spend some days at a rehab center. Thank you to ALL who have prayed and asked for information regarding her well-being. She was attacked in the course of her sidewalk counselor ministry at EMW. The YouTube video shows a previous incident when she was shoved down on the sidewalk.
A story with more details on the injury and a potential lawsuit is here.
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7/11/2021 10:41:26 AM“Our case is defending the right of sidewalk counselors, which is a ministry, to meet women and to present them with alternatives at a very critical moment in their life,” Wuchner said…
6/8/2021 1:53:05 PMReligious freedoms are trampled as sidewalk counselors are silenced.
4/15/2019 6:02:54 PMUpdate on well-being of KRLA member and sidewalk counselor Donna Durning