Right to protest heats up outside Kentucky's last abortion clinic

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- There's a court battle in Kentucky over the right to protest outside the last clinic in the state that performs abortions.

The protesters are organized by the group "Operation Save America," which calls Roe v. Wade a "covenant with death," and wants abortion outlawed.

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Jason and Sara Storms with their eight children.

CBS News

Evangelical activist Jason Storms and his wife, Sara, came with their eight children from Milwaukee.

"You are killing an innocent human being," Jason said.

"Little baby girls are also being murdered in these abortion clinics," said Sara.

Kentucky only has this one clinic left, down from 17 in 1978. The state's new Republican Governor Matt Bevin wants to take that number to zero -- and the protesters agree.

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Man holds a sign outside the EMW Women's Surgical Center in Louisville, Ky.

CBS News

In May, nearly a dozen protesters associated with the group were arrested for blocking the entrance to the clinic.

The events in May prompted a federal judge to order that a buffer zone be temporarily placed around the entrance to EMW Women's Surgical Center so patients can get past the protesters.

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Anne Ahola, executive director at EMW Women's Surgical Center in Louisville, Ky.

CBS News

Anne Ahola, the clinic's director, said protesters are more aggressive now. CBS News asked her if she's frightened of them.

"It's intimidating," Ahola said. "The scare tactics have escalated so the patients come in more upset, more scared."

Storms insists they're not violent and points out that he and key leaders of "Operation Save America" have never committed violent crimes. But their group calls women who have abortions "murderers".

"A mother who has knowingly, willingly, chosen to kill her own child out of pure selfish motives, she's guilty as a murderer in the eyes of the law," Jason said.

"It's disturbing for patients, it's intimidating, it is a discrimination against women," Ahola said. "It's their choice to exercise their reproductive freedom that we have, and should continue to have in this country."

Protesters plan on being out here all week, but they will have to abide by a buffer zone -- which is a striped tape along the pavement in front of the clinic's entrance. 

In September, a judge will hear arguments on whether the clinic can stay open under state licensing rules.