Abortion Opponents Fail to Close Kentucky’s Last Clinic

When Operation Save America activists traveled to Louisville, Kentucky, this spring their goal was clear: attempt to shut down the only abortion clinic in the state.

A dozen abortion opponents openly broke the law and blocked the entry way to EMW Women’s Surgical Center, recreating the 80′s and 90′s era “rescues” that kept clinic doors closed prior to the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. Eleven of them were charged with violating FACE, although their impact was limited as patients were escorted through the back door instead.

Would those activists — as well as the hundreds of protestors that accompanied them  – do it again?

We now know that the answer is ”no,” and that despite all of OSA’s talk about closing the only abortion provider in the state, it was mostly business as usual for the EMW.

Operation Save America made Louisville the destination for its annual summer meeting, following the group’s trend of traveling to low-access states to preach gospel and rally against safe, legal termination.

While OSA was formerly known as Operation Rescue — a name now held by Troy Newman’s Kansas-based organization, after he renamed his Operation Rescue West affiliate — its name change has done nothing to decrease its aggressive actions when it comes to fighting accessible abortion.

And in Kentucky, it was no different. A federal court ordered a small buffer zone in front of the building while the anti-abortion group was in town, helping to keep a bit of distance between those coming in for an abortion and those who wanted to stop them. The clinic itself also put extra security into place in order to offer as safe of an environment as possible under the circumstances.

At the clinic, the week was as loud and chaotic as expected. On one day, the leaders of the group even encouraged their children to approach the clinic and pray for the staff and volunteers’ souls.

“[W]hen I thought I had seen it all, OSA directed all their young children, ranging from about four to ten years old, to march up to the property line and pray over the escorts and the clinic for the salvation of our souls,” one escort wrote. “Escorts stationed on the front line said it was so painful and shameful to see children used this way that they quietly and respectfully turned around while the children chanted, sang, and spoke in tongues behind them. Encouraged on by OSA leaders who were coaching and filming delightedly, these children were broadcast live for viewers of conservative blogs.”

However, unlike the last visit, no one crossed the property line, and no one attempted to block the doors, instead respecting the FACE Act and refusing to break federal law again.

Was the original clinic “rescue” simply a stunt meant to ensure that Operation Save America received massive media coverage as the group returned to Louisville for its national convention?

If so, it was a ploy that certainly worked.

Both the clinic and abortion opponents received far more attention than last year, when OSA celebrated the 25th anniversary of the Summer of Mercy in Wichita, or the year before when they visited the state of Alabama — and where I briefly met up with them to attend their church service and a clinic protest.

News crews and progressive websites covered the group not just at the clinic, but also in their various actions around town, too. There was ample media attention at their court protest — and the counter-protest that followed them.

“Protesters gathered around the Gene Snyder United States Courthouse, where a hearing was held Monday morning over a temporary buffer zone outside the clinic,” local station WAVE3 reported, adding that “A federal law enforcement officer said he estimated 150 to 200 people gathered at the intersection of Sixth Street and Broadway during the morning hearing.

The courthouse protest wasn’t the only public stunt away from the abortion clinic, either. Operation Save America also passed out graphic leaflets in Louisville, publicizing the personal information of those who were providing abortions at the clinic.

According to the Courier Journal, the group claims to have handed out around 1,500 fliers citing the names and home addresses of the clinic director and two doctors, referring to the providers as “Killers Among Us.” The group says it also mailed them to the providers’ neighbors and encourages abortion opponents to protest at their homes.

“People need to know that these type of people live among us,” Kentucky OSA member Joseph Spurgeon said at a press conference. “We’re asking them to love their neighbor. Including [clinic director] Anne [Ahola]. We love her. We don’t want her to face the judgment of God. But she will if she continues to rebel.”

OSA’s activities and the potential for media coverage also brought Ohio-based anti-abortion group Created Equal into town. Their visit was far more brief: After one day of displaying graphic abortion images on a jumbotron, the group departed, leaving many locals disturbed — regardless of their feelings about abortion.

“A lot of kids shouldn’t see this, it should be done in closed places instead of out in the public,” abortion opponent Duane Hale told WFPL.com. “I’ve looked at a few pictures, the leaflets that they gave me, and it’s kind of disgusting.”

By Sunday, however, OSA and all of their allies had left town. The news crews packed up, and the extra volunteers went home. Despite rising decibels on loudspeakers, bloody posters and hundreds of extra protestors, the clinic’s doors remained completely open.

Now, with everything back to “normal,” let’s hope it stays that way.

Photo credit: Robin Marty


Marie W
Marie Wabout a year ago

thanks for sharing

Amanda M
Amanda Mabout a year ago

Score one for women's reproductive freedom! Now, if we can just get OSA called out for being the CRIMINALS they are due to their harassment and stalking of clinic workers, their families, and also the patients who go there for reproductive health care!

Melania P
Melania Padillaabout a year ago

So cool!

donald Baumgartner

Great News !!! Long live Roe Vs Wade !!!!

Jen S
Jen S1 years ago

This group is egregiously arrogant; what is most especially offensive is the exploitation of their children. Given their history of violence and potential violence, it is at best child endangerment, at worst child exploitation. In any event, it utterly transcends responsible parenting.

Nicole Heindryckx

When abortion was legalized in Belgium, must have been about 20 years ago, of course there were some "good" catholics / christians who protested against this. But we have never seen such comedies / tragedies as described in this article. Using your own children (as from 4 till 10 years old) to sing "protest" songs ?? My GOD, this is child abuse !!! All the women who did that, should be picked up and put in jail. What does a 4 year old, even a 10 year old understand about abortion ??? Just what their moms tell them. It is evil. It are satans, they will all go the hell etc... My GOD, return home, bake a cake and go visit the children living in the street with their moms... knit some jumpers for them, visit children's homes and read them some good stories (NOT the bible), play with them, be a foster parent for an abused or abandoned child.... This will be more helpful than your stupid actions taken in front of an abortion clinic. Shame on YOU, stupid women !!!!!!!!!!

Nicole H

@ ANNE MORAN : well if there are no abortion clinics in Canada, you certainly never had an abortion. In 99 % of the cases, an abortion if carried out
1/ When the mother decides not to have another baby and that because of failure of her contraceptive methode she got pregnant anyway. ( YOU FORGET 1 PILL - OR YOU HAVE DIARRHEA - OR YOU HAVE THROWN UP : you easily can get pregnant that month when your friend or husband, being a macho, don't want to make use of something specially designed for them) 2/ when you were raped 3/ when there is a danger for the woman to continue the pregnancy or 4/ when the echo shows that the foetus has severe malformations, disabilities... EACH AND EVERY WOMAN HAS THE RIGHT TO DECIDE WHETHER OF NOT SHE WANTS TO TERMINATE THE PREGNANCY. AND IF YOU WOULD INFORM YOURSELF CORRECTLY ABOUT AN ABORTION, AND HOW IT IS CARRIED OUT, YOU WOULD UNDERSTAND WHY THOUSANDS OF DOCTORS - ALL OVER THE WORLD - SLEEP AT NIGHT AFTER HAVING CARRIED OUT SEVERAL ABORTIONS !!!!!!!!!!!! P.S. : I was 22, had a baby of under a year, and got pregnant again. This happened more than 40 years ago, and we had to go the The Netherlands, because in Belgium it was still forbidden then. My husband (from which I divorced later on) gave me two possibilities : get an abortion, or he would leave me and my 2 children then, without income....... Do you think I had a choice, especially as I could not go to my parents, an

iloshechka A
iloshechka A1 years ago


Margie FOURIE1 years ago


Joan E
Joan E1 years ago

Glad reason prevailed this time.