Updated August 21, 9 AM
The Louisville Metro Council on Thursday rejected an ordinance that would have allowed health care facilities, including abortion clinics, to create a buffer zone outside the entrances to their facilities.
The legislation, proposed this year after years of advocacy work by activists including the Kentucky Health Justice Network, failed in a 12-13 vote after lengthy discussion that at times verged into the ethics of abortion.
All seven Republicans — council members Kevin Kramer, R-11th; Scott Reed, R-16th; Parker; Anthony Piagentini, R-19th; Stuart Benson, R-20th; Robin Engel, R-21st; and James Peden, R-23rd — voted against the ordinance.
They were joined by six Democrats: Pat Mulvihill, D-10th; Rick Blackwell, D-12th; Mark Fox, D-13th; Cindi Fowler, D-14th; Madonna Flood, D-24th; and David Yates, D-25th.
TIME NOW to SAY THANKS! See email link for Council members below.
Updated August 19, 2:30 PM
FULL METRO COUNCIL VOTE ON BUFFER ZONE AUGUST 20
Many in the community have objected— Read the ordinance.
A long-time member of RTL shared the letter that he sent to the Council members. As he notes, “The resolution cites the COVID pandemic as a reason for its passage. Putting aside the fact that most of the protesters wear masks since COVID, isn’t it interesting how no council member has suggested that other protests observe a similar buffer zone for public safety. It seems that one group’s right to protest is deemed safe and another group’s protest must have a buffer.”
Email the council members. View the agenda.
Updated August 14, 2020 7AM
Buffer Zone ordinance advances to full council
The Courier-Journal reported late Thursday that the Buffer Zone ordinance moved out of committee:
Legislation that would allow health care facilities, including abortion clinics, to create "buffer zones" outside their entrances to preserve access to services is one step closer to reality.
The Louisville Metro Council’s Community Affairs, Health and Education Committee voted 4-2 along partisan lines Wednesday to send the ordinance to the full Metro Council for its consideration, after more than two hours of discussion.
The legislation, which has been called for by advocates for several years, was made more urgent by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to sponsors who spoke at Wednesday's committee meeting.
Councilwoman Jessica Green, D-1st District, said the ordinance shouldn't be a debate about abortion because it is legal and “makes sense right now” because it has become a safety and public health issue.
The buffer zone (BZ) is back in the news. Nationally, it has steadily been debated and adjudicated for decades.
In June of 2014 the Supreme Court determined for Massachusetts that an abortion clinic buffer zone of 35-feet would violate the First Amendment. At that time Chief Justice Roberts said, “Such areas occupy a ‘special position in terms of First Amendment protection’ because of their historic role as sites for discussion and debate…”
But in early July (2020) SCOTUS declined to review an appeal on behalf of Colorado pro-lifers regarding a 2000 decision that upheld an 8-foot ‘bubble zone’ around people near an entrance to a clinic. This means that clinic access laws in Chicago and Harrisburg, Penn., will not be challenged as pro-lifers had hoped. The Chicago ordinance requires an 8-foot bubble zone around people within 50 feet of a clinic entrance and restricts specified types of free speech— protesting and counseling. The Harrisburg ordinance sets a 20-foot buffer zone.
In Louisville, the issue took front and center in the spring of 2017. KRLA reported on a Louisville Metro Council (LMC) meeting where the BZ was proposed and discussed on June 14, 2017. The photo shows some sidewalk counselors who attended the meeting, and their small sign relates the best reasons not to have a BZ: Free speech and Women have Right to Know.
Last January Councilman Robin Engle warned the peaceful protestors at the Louisville Rally for Life held on the Metro Hall steps, that LMC and BZ supporters were discussing a new effort. Robin said in response to the C-J story that followed, “I don’t know the distance being discussed in the version of the ordinance being proposed by abortion advocates. The Council tried to establish limits like this on free speech (in 2017), and there really isn’t much difference between 10, 20 and 50 feet.”
Fast-forward to August 2020: We are now being advised by the LMC that a 12-foot BZ is needed by ALL health clinics, double the six-foot “guidance” for COVID safety. The new ordinance, filed August 3, states: The Dept. of Public Works “shall, at the request of any healthcare facility, paint or lay on the public way or sidewalk easily distinguishable demarcation lines marking the buffer zone and post such zone with signage stating: ‘Healthcare facility: No standing or obstructions within this zone’ and citing this ordinance.”
The LMC Community Affairs, Health and Education Committee agenda states they will discuss the BZ at their August 12 meeting at 1:30 PM.
Louisville residents can find their Council representatives here. Email addresses are here. Address correspondence to: Louisville Metro Council, 601 West Jefferson St., Louisville, Ky. 40202. Look for Louisville Safety Zone on Facebook and Twitter to view the community activism.
The COVID-19 virus is cited in the ordinance as a reason for the BZ:
WHEREAS, as of July 16, 2020, over 3,483,832 individuals in the United States have been diagnosed with COVID-19, with 21,083 of those cases being Kentucky citizens;
WHEREAS, as of July 16, 2020, over 136,938 individuals in the United States have died from COVID-19, with 650 of those deaths being Kentucky citizens; …
This means that of 326.7 million people in the U.S., one percent have or had the virus and .04% have died. As well, there are many stories in the media stating that numerous deaths are attributed to COVID among those who had other debilitating conditions.
Is this another instance of COVID-engineered societal lockdown?