The Look in Brief

Injunction prevents Operation Save America protesters from interfering at clinic

By: - September 20, 2022 6:00 am
An anti-abortion protester,left, squares off with abortion-rights during a July protest at the Tennessee Capitol. (Photo: John Partipilo)

An anti-abortion protester with Operation Save America, left, squares off with abortion-rights during a July protest at the Tennessee Capitol. (Photo: John Partipilo)

A federal judge in Nashville has granted a preliminary injunction barring protestors affiliated with the anti-abortion group Operation Save America from the grounds of a Mt. Juliet reproductive health clinic.

On July 26, about 150 members and associates of Operation Save America gathered on streets and sidewalks outside an office building that houses carafem, which provided abortions until Tennessee’s ban took effect one month later. The clinic continues to provide a spectrum of reproductive health services.

A group of 10-20 men then entered the building and hallway leading to the clinic, forcing a lockdown and frightening staff and patients.  After being escorted out, one of the men told Mt. Juliet police officers: “we got men out here who are willing to do what needs to be done…We are going to be obedient to God’s law, not man’s.” Another man told police that entering a clinic to prevent abortions is “always lawful.”

The preliminary injunction issued by U.S. District Judge William Campbell, Jr. on Wednesday is to “prevent Defendants from interfering or attempting to interfere with the ability of carafem providers to provide reproductive health services to patients and the ability of patients to obtain those services.”

Campbell said he was unpersuaded by arguments that the injunction was no longer warranted since the desire of protestors to return to carafem has been “greatly lessened” now the clinic has ceased providing abortions.

The order bars the men, and anyone working in concert with them, from entering a defined perimeter around the carefem building and parking lot between the hours of 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday and 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday.

On Thursday, a day after the ruling, attorneys for the protestors filed notice that they planned to appeal Campbell’s decision.

Law enforcement has investigated at least three violent or disruptive incidents at Tennessee clinics in the past year.  An FBI and Nashville police investigation continues into an incident of vandalism at the Hope Clinic for Women, a crisis pregnancy center, in the overnight hours of July 1, according to Metro Police spokesman Don Aaron. On New Year’s Eve, a Planned Parenthood clinic under construction was destroyed by an arsonist attack. Knoxville Fire Department Assistant Chief Mark Wilbanks said Monday that fire remains under investigation.


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Anita Wadhwani
Anita Wadhwani

Anita Wadhwani is a senior reporter for the Tennessee Lookout. The Tennessee AP Broadcasters and Media (TAPME) named her Journalist of the Year in 2019 as well as giving her the Malcolm Law Award for Investigative Journalism. Wadhwani is formerly an investigative reporter with The Tennessean who focused on the impact of public policies on the people and places across Tennessee.