Anti-abortion groups get do-over on Louisville buffer law

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Anti-abortion groups challenging a new Louisville law that creates a buffer zone in front of a downtown clinic will be given a second chance to make their case to a federal judge.

U.S. District Judge Rebecca Grady Jennings declined to dismiss the groups’ lawsuit that sought to halt the new law creating the buffer zone. The zone pushes protesters away from the building entrance. The judge ruled the plaintiffs, including a group called Sisters for Life, misinterpreted the ordinance, thinking it encircled the entire city block.

Jennings wrote in a ruling last week that the groups “must be given a reasonable opportunity” to argue how the buffer zone would affect their sidewalk counseling, The Courier Journal reported.

The new law passed in May creates a 10-foot-wide (3-meter-wide) zone outside health care facilities, including the EMW Women’s clinic. The downtown facility routinely draws sidewalk protests from anti-abortion advocates.

The Sisters for Life and the Kentucky Right to Life have argued the buffer zone violates the groups’ free speech rights.

Violators of the buffer law would first be issued a warning, then a citation and a fine of up to $500.