OPINION: There are only inches between life and death outside the EMW Women's Surgical Center

The entrance to the EMW Women's Surgical Center in Louisville. (Kentucky Today file photo)
The entrance to the EMW Women's Surgical Center in Louisville. (Kentucky Today file photo)

There are times when the difference between life and death is mere inches. If you have ever swerved at the last minute to avoid a head-on car collision, you know how fast your heart beats when you realize how close you came to a life-ending crash.

Inches are important outside the EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville, one of two abortion clinics in Kentucky. The Louisville Metro Council voted to create a 10-foot buffer zone so women seeking abortions could potentially enter the clinic without interacting with sidewalk counselors and others who gather to pray and try to persuade them to change their minds. The buffer zone would require a portion of the public sidewalk to be off-limits to sidewalk counselors while clients are walking into the clinic.

Sidewalk counselors from ministries like Sisters for Life and Speak for the Unborn try to speak words of hope and support. They try to persuade mothers, fathers, and family members in the final moments before they enter the clinic. The buffer zone would allow clinic escorts to block sidewalk counselors on a public sidewalk.

This ministry has proven to be valuable as many women have changed their minds in the final moments before entering the clinic. This comes to the chagrin of clinic escorts who work to shepherd clients into the clinic, beginning in parking lots and street corners surrounding the clinic.

An injunction filed by several pro-life organizations expires on July 16, and the ordinance will take effect if there isn’t other legal action.

The law also helps us understand how this is a matter of life and death. Recent cases remind us that law enforcement and the judicial system view the death of an unborn child as murder.

In mid-June, police charged a Cincinnati man with two murders after being arrested for driving while intoxicated, crashing into another car, and killing the pregnant woman driving the vehicle.

In February, a London, Ky., man was charged with fetal homicide when his beating of a pregnant woman resulted in the death of her child. The acting judge held the man on a significant bond of $250,000.

It is hard to understand how it can be a felony to kill an unborn baby on the sidewalk outside the abortion clinic, but completely legal just a few feet away inside the clinic doors.

Life and death decisions are being made on the sidewalks outside the EMW Clinic, and sometimes those final inches make all the difference.

The importance of those inches is on display a few blocks away from the EMW Clinic at Louisville’s second abortion clinic, Planned Parenthood. The clinic is far off the street, surrounded by a high paneled fence. Sidewalk counselors have no chance to speak to women seeking an abortion at Planned Parenthood as the parking lot and entrance is protected behind the ominous fence.

It is hard to imagine what must be racing through the minds of expecting mothers and fathers as they walk from their vehicle to the clinic. Many of them are probably in deep contemplation of what is about to happen. They may or may not know how their lives are about to be changed forever. Abortion is not a one-time procedure. It is a life-changing event affecting the baby and the mother, the father, and their family.

Sidewalk counseling saves lives and protects women and families from the grief and sorrow that can haunt abortive mothers and families for the rest of their lives. The free speech of sidewalk counselors should be protected. The buffer zone passed by the Louisville Metro Council violates this crucial right. Those inches on the sidewalk outside the EMW Women’s Surgical Center are a line between life and death.


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