Who is Matthew Schrenger? Outrage as cop who prayed outside abortion clinic returns to work
Doctors of a Louisville abortion clinic were left upset after the local police department announced that one of its officers, who allegedly prayed outside the clinic, will be returning to work without facing further consequences. Identified as Matthew Schrenger, the officer received a letter on June 15, where Louisville Metro Police Chief Erika Shields declined to discipline him any further after he engaged in praying outside the clinic months ago.
Officials refused to take matters any further citing the fact that the cop had tried to cover up his uniform while he was praying outside the abortion clinic. They also noted that the police department doesn't have rules pertaining to officers participating in protests or similar activities. But owners of EMW Women's Surgical Center weren't happy with the outcome as they published a statement on Monday, June 28, condemning the police department's plan of action. News of this comes amidst fury over the controversial 'Heartbeat Bill' passed in Texas, which prohibits women over six weeks pregnant from aborting the fetus.
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Who is Matthew Schrenger?
The Louisville cop had been placed on administrative leave for four months after he was accused, back in February, of praying outside the abortion clinic. In the early hours of February 20, Schrenger had driven to the EMW clinic and joined his father to pray outside the facility. While there were no abortions scheduled that day, according to the cop's lawyer, a photo shared on Twitter via the volunteers at the clinic, showed Schrenger carrying his gun near a department-issued LMPD cruiser.
The officer was off duty at the time, but he was still wearing his uniform, with a coat over it, his attorney said. In a March-released surveillance footage from the clinic, the officer can be seen pulling up in his cruiser just shortly before 6 am. He gets out, puts a jacket on, and remains outside the clinic with another person for about 45 minutes, holding up a placard that says “pray to end abortion.”
Cop that had the 40 days sign and was marching in front of clinic. pic.twitter.com/SNMSxbwsBD— LvilleClinicEscorts (@LouClinicEscort) February 20, 2021
Schrenger given four months administrative leave
Shortly after Schrenger's morning patrol duty began that day, he was asked to return to his division's office. Schrenger was immediately placed on administrative leave with pay, which prohibited him from making arrests, working cases, or even overtime hours. The Daily Wire reports that this cost Schrenger a chunk of his pay which he relies on to sustain his family of six.
Incidentally enough, the Thomas Moore Society was able to discover several requests made to the LMPD in the past, to not take disciplinary action against other officers who have marched in Black Lives Matter and LGBTQ++ protests. Based on this, senior counsel Matt Heffron told the outlet: "They have no grounds at all to even discipline him." Criticizing the LMPD for “letting the procedure drag on and on as a form of implicit punishment,” Heffron suggested the police department could be “politically motivated.” He added: "They have implicitly punished him for praying. Why would you do that to a loyal officer who’s never had any discipline problems, [and] gotten several commendations?”
In the wake of Schrenger's reinstatement, outrage has emerged from the abortion clinic he chose to pray outside. "It’s time for LMPD to take the public safety risks on the sidewalks seriously, follow the law and do their job to ensure safety, not encourage more harm to Louisville residents and all who come here for care,” Dr Ernest Marshall and Ona Marshall, the owners of the clinic, said.
10-foot buzzer zone outside clinics
Also accusing pro-life protesters of making noise and harassing people to the degree of assaults and trespassing, the clinic's owners said this decision “contributed to a dangerous environment. Not holding this officer accountable for breaches of policy does not instill public confidence in LMPD for any citizen or situation in the Louisville community."
Following Schrenger's February incident, the clinic's owners also issued a statement in March, saying “the officer engaged in political activity while in uniform and carrying his service weapon on a main thoroughfare in downtown Louisville. This conduct undermines public trust and confidence in LMPD and intimidates patients and care providers.” In June, the Louisville city council also approved legislation that will allow clinics to enforce a 10-foot buffer zone outside the entrance of abortion clinics to keep out pro-lifers from approaching incoming patients.
Filing a temporary injunction against the buffer zone ordinance, pro-life groups Sisters for Life and Kentucky Right to Life's attorney said on Monday: "We are hopeful that the court will rule for us, and our clients can continue their sidewalk ministry, just as they have done every day the abortion mill has been in operation since 2003"