Widespread protests push for Kentucky to close last remaining abortion clinic

A week of protests has been planned to try and force the closure of the last remaining abortion clinic in Kentucky.

The protests, which have sparked fear in those who work at the clinic, have been supported by the state's Republican Governor, Matt Bevin.

"[We] are a pro-life state. It is a state where the vast majority of Kentuckians value the sanctity of human life and want to protect it to the absolute degree possible," he says.

Meg Stern, who volunteers at the clinic to protect patients from protesters while heading into the building, says there are a lot of "intimidation tactics" at play.

"I see comparisons to activities along the lines of the Holocaust or activities from white supremacist groups.

"Some of the protesters will compare escorts to Nazis and talk about this like being a concentration camp."

EMW Women's Surgical Center is the last clinic in Kentucky still performing abortions. It plans to stay open during the week-long protests.

"We have never been under siege like this," co-founder Dr Ernest Marshall says. He's been working there since it first opened in 1981.

"We have never had any question as to whether we would exist, so this is the most we've been under siege."

Christian fundamentalist group Operation Save America is running the protest and plans for hundreds of activists to turn up next week.

Organiser Pastor Joseph Spurgeon says two other "abortion mills" have already been shut down, so now they're targeting the only one left.

"[We] feel like Kentucky stands ready to be the first state without an abortion centre," he says.

"Under no circumstances, no exceptions - it is murder. It should be penalised as such and criminalised and abolished in our land."

The healthcare centre performs around 2500 to 3000 abortions a year, helping patients from not just Kentucky but also neighbouring states.

Dr Marshall, a father of three and grandfather of eight, attends church every Sunday and used to be a Sunday school teacher. He says there's a misconception that those who provide abortions are "Godless", as opposed to anti-abortionists.

"It's often thought that the right-to-lifers have all the faith and the abortion providers have no faith, and I just want to correct that myth," Dr Marshall says.

"Some of the things I see out in front of our clinic, to me, by the pro-life people, don't represent good Christianity. I just don't think Jesus would harass people or name-call people or call doctors murderers."

A federal judge has ordered a "buffer zone" be created in front of the clinic to stop protesters blocking access to the healthcare centre.