Kentucky may soon become the first state in the country without a single abortion clinic. Nearly overnight, the city of Louisville, Kentucky has transformed into ground zero for the fight over abortion. Christian fundamentalists have descended upon the EMW Women's Surgical Center the state's only abortion provider demanding the clinic be shut down.
Tensions are mounting, and police had to be called in to keep the peace. A "buffer zone" has also been set up to prevent protestors from blocking entrance to the clinic.
Outside the clinic, tensions are high. Protesters have lined up around the entrance, displaying graphic signs and harassing women as they try to go inside. These Bible-emboldened activists have continued to gather, day in and day out, showering visitors with angry chants and threats of eternal damnation should they go through with an abortion. "You're in jeopardy of losing your soul this morning," protesters can be heard saying.
However, supporters of the clinic and the members of the pro-choice community are not taking this lying down. Lined up across from the anti-abortion folks are groups of "clinic escorts", volunteers who help women get from their cars to the clinic and vice versa. Donning bright vests and working in teams, they've created a sort of vanguard to shield patients from the protestors' vitriol.
There's another twist: Christian activists, apparently not content protesting outside the clinic itself, are now planning to follow the doctors home and picket at their places of residence.
Operation Save America
The Christian group organizing the protest calls itself "Operation Save America," and is active in many major cities across the country. A mission statement from the group's website reads:
"As the Church changes its heart toward unborn children, God Himself will hear from heaven, forgive our sin, and bring healing to our land. We believe that Jesus Christ is the only answer to the abortion holocaust."
The Terrorists vs. The Heathens
That headline might seem a little extreme, but the insults really are flying between the two groups. During tense demonstrations this week, abortion-rights activists called Operation Save America "a right-wing Christian hate group," insisting that "they are the American Taliban."
In response, anti-abortion protesters called their opponents "fornicators" who sanction the killing of innocent unborn being. According the Christian group, pro-choice people must repent or face the consequences.
A Hostile Governor
Operation Save American has one thing their opponents don't: a powerful ally in politics. The current Kentucky governor, Matt Bevin, has consistently taken a strong anti-abortion stance. Under his direction, the state government has instituted even stricter requirements for abortion clinics and stepped up enforcement.
On several occasions, government officials have threatened to shut down the EMW clinic entirely, claiming they were not in compliance with the rules. The clinic insists that their supposed "infractions" were really just small technicalities, and that Kentucky officials are fishing for reasons to close their doors.
So, although abortion is technically legal in the United States, it's no stretch of the imagination to think that Kentucky may soon be the first abortion-free state in the country. While this outcome would no doubt please the anti-abortion camp, it might not have the effect they are intending history shows that outlawing abortion doesn't prevent it from happening, it simply pushes it into the shadows and makes the procedure more dangerous.
No End in Sight
If these latest altercations underscore anything, it's that our society is as far apart on the issue abortion than ever before. On one side, you have folks who believe with all their hearts that abortion is fundamentally wrong a sin of the highest order. On the other side sit people who think that's a bunch of baloney; they steadfastly support a woman's right to choose for herself how to deal with a pregnancy.
Is there any way to reconcile these polar-opposite points of view?