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Professional-life Teams Challenges Louisville Buffer Zone Ordinance in New Lawsuit – Authorized Reader

Sisters For Life and the Kentucky Right to Life Association filed a lawsuit over a new buffer zone ordinance they claim violates free speech and religious freedom.

Two pro-life groups recently filed a lawsuit over claims that Louisville’s “buffer zone ordinance violates free speech and religious freedom.” The suit was filed by Angela Minter and her organization, Sisters For Life, and the Kentucky Right to Life Association. The suit, which was filed in the U.S. District Court, is seeking injunctive relief.

Brown gavel on grey wooden surface; image by Wesley Tingey, via unsplash.com.
Brown gavel on grey wooden surface; image by Wesley Tingey, via unsplash.com.

According to the lawsuit, the plaintiffs believe the ordinance “prohibits the sidewalk ministry from practicing their religious freedoms for half a city block.” Fortunately, the ordinance “will not be enforced until July 16 to allow the attorneys involved to complete briefings.” When commenting on the matter, Chris Wiest, the attorney representing the Sisters For Life and Kentucky Right to Life said, “I consider this a win in the first round because it allows the ministry to continue.”

Addia Wuchner was also pleased with the temporary agreement. Wuchner is the executive director of Kentucky Right to Life and said, “As a pro-life, pro-women organization, we believe the sidewalk ministry plays an important role in a woman’s right to have fully informed consent.” 

For years, Sisters for Life has been ministering to “women at the EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville, the state’s most active abortion clinic.” In 2019 alone, EMW “performed 99.5% of abortions in Kentucky.According to the suit, Sisters for Life “saved 800 babies from having their lives cut short by ministering to women and their parents.” The organization noted that it’s “essential to minister to people on the sidewalk outside of the abortion clinic.” The suit further states:

“Necessarily, this sidewalk ministry is not loud, obnoxious or confrontational…Nor is the sidewalk ministry a protest or meant or intended to block access to the clinic — the message and ministry are a final intervention with women who are often in crisis and believe they have no alternative to abortion.”

The suit continues:

“Plaintiffs, for their part, intend to violate the ordinance on a regular and systemic basis, each and every day that EMW is open for business, including engaging in their sidewalk ministry within the buffer zone, each and every one of those days.”

What are the details surrounding the ordinance in question, though? For starters, the Metro Council passed the ordinance back on May 20 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.”

The suit itself names Louisville Metro, Mayor Greg Fisher, Louisville Metro Police Chief Ericka Shields, and Jefferson County Attorney Mike O’Connell as defendants and argues the ordinance “violates their free speech rights and prohibits them from practicing their faith.”

Sources:

Pro-life organizations take on buffer zone ordinance in lawsuit

Anti-Abortion Group Sues Louisville Over Clinic Buffer Zone

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