Skip to comments.Bellevue doctor wants to carry on Tiller's mission
Posted on 06/03/2009 4:20:26 AM PDT by stan_sipple
LeRoy Carhart wants to continue providing third-term abortions after the slaying of his friend George Tiller, but the Nebraska doctor doesnt have anywhere to perform them and hes one of only a handful of providers who will.
Tillers Wichita, Kan., clinic was shuttered Sunday after the 67-year-old was gunned down at church. His family said Tuesday they were unsure when it would reopen, posing a problem for Carhart, who wants to carry on his friends mission.
Carhart, 67, is one of a handful of remaining doctors in the United States who perform third-trimester abortions, and it is uncertain if a new generation of providers will take over.
Schools and universities dont offer many programs to train doctors how to perform the procedure, and Carhart said younger doctors who might be interested in stepping forward are afraid they or their families will be harmed.
Tillers slaying underlined that fear. On Tuesday, Kansas authorities charged 51-year-old Scott Roeder, a staunch abortion opponent, with first-degree murder in Tillers death.
Dr. Tiller and I and all our friends know that tomorrow is never a given, Carhart said. I think what we have to do is not let this loss of his life affect our goals in life, No. 1, and we need to do things so hes never forgotten.
Carhart, who has been at the epicenter of the debate on what abortion foes call partial-birth abortions, first met Tiller more than 20 years ago and began working at the Wichita clinic a decade ago.
He said he regularly traveled to Kansas for a few days every third week. He only performs third-term abortions at Tillers clinic.
Carhart drew national protests from abortion opponents after he filed a lawsuit in 2003 challenging the federal Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, and his case was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court three years later.
In 2007, the high court upheld the ban on the procedure, which generally was used to end pregnancies in the second and third trimester. Doctors called it intact dilation and extraction, or D&X, and opponents referred to it as partial-birth abortion.
At the time of the Supreme Courts decision, Carhart said the ruling opened the door to an all-out assault on the 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade.
The former Air Force surgeon also operates his own clinic, Abortion & Contraception Clinic of Nebraska, in a nondescript building in Bellevue. But he said he doesnt perform abortions past the 22nd week of pregnancy there.
Nebraska state law is based on viability. Nobody has defined that, he told the AP. Its much cheaper to go build a new clinic in Kansas than to try to define what viability means in Nebraska.
The type of late-term abortions performed by Tiller, Carhart and the handful of others are rare.
More than 820,000 abortions were performed in the United States in 2005, according to the most recent available data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Less than 2 percent of abortions occur at 21 weeks of pregnancy or later, according to Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive-health think tank.
It is unknown how many are done specifically in the third trimester, but Carhart said 75 to 100 of the several thousand abortions he performs annually are in the third trimester.
Abortion rights advocates also worry the group of physicians who can provide the service is dwindling.
There are very, very few abortions that happen at that time, said Nancy Northrup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, who said she worries about a severe shortage of physicians who can perform the procedure.
People who need those services need caring and compassionate and qualified doctors like Dr. Tiller who are able to provide those services.
With Tillers death, there are fewer than 10 doctors who perform third-trimester abortions in the United States, Carhart estimated, and though he has worked with younger physicians before, he hasnt trained any abortion providers in third-trimester techniques for at least five years.
Carhart, with his wife, Mary, by his side at a news conference Tuesday, said hed be willing to train younger doctors but few want to put themselves or their families at risk.
Young people starting families arent going to want to go into abortion practice, Mary Carhart said. If you were young with little kids, would you want abortion opponents outside your house?
Another doctor who performs third-trimester abortions, 70-year-old Warren Hern of Boulder, Colo., said hes also concerned there wont be enough doctors trained to perform abortions in the future.
Hern, who is being protected by U.S. Marshals following Tillers killing, said many medical schools shy from teaching about abortion and doctors dont want to learn about it.
There are very few places that are teaching it, he said.
A day after Tiller was shot, Carhart vowed to reopen his friends Kansas clinic and continue Tillers mission.
But on Tuesday, Tillers family said there were no plans to reopen. Carhart said he remains hopeful Tillers family will change their minds. If not, he hopes another abortion provider will open a clinic in Kansas where he can work part-time.
For Carhart, the dispute over abortion is personal. In 1991, his familys rural home burned in a fire apparently started by an abortion foe.
But he said hes determined to continue doing what he does.
As long as you have a terrorist who is willing to walk into a church and kill one person, as long as that element is in society, this is the risk we take, he said. You cant live your life based on fear. You have to live by your principles.
how noble of “Doctor” Carhart to take up this heavy burden
maybe his buddies Obama and kathleen Sebelius will force new doctors to learn how to do abortions
Can’t fathom why LeRoy Carhart would put himself up as a target for another kook?
He should apply to 0bama for some stimulus money.
They had a snippet of him on the radio yesterday..I swear he was crying while complaining of the killing...no remorse for the murders he comitts everyday..but crying becuase a fellow partial birth abortionist was killed...Amazing...
The only positive thing is that there seem to be, according to the article, few young doctors who want to take up this horrible thing. Granted, they probably do “regular” abortions without batting an eye, but this procedure is so conscious and horrible that it says something pretty awful about people who do it.
Interesting that the ones who it now are practically all older men.
They are already forcing doctors to learn how it won’t be too long before they force doctors to do them. Learning how can be argued as necessary as a part of training but actually having to do them is another.
I used to be a medical secretary for an ob/gyn who was anti abortion. If one of his patients wanted one he’d refer her to a trusted colleague and also had a psychologist she could speak to before going through with it. In the 16 cases I knew of at least 10 women changed their minds and had beautiful babies. In Obama’s view doctors would be forced to do the abortions.
As long as you have a terrorist who is willing to walk into a church and kill one person...”
As long as you have a terrorist who is willing to walk into an ABORTION CLINIC and kill one person.....”
No sympathy from me.....how many had Dr. Tiller killed?
My microscopic violin utters its ultrasonic sobs.
2005? Is this accurate? 2005 is the most recent data available? Why? We had a daily count on swine flu.
mysterious fires seem to follow him too, as when the attorney general wanted to look at his records
There's a clue that it's wrong. This country has about 37,000 Ob/Gyn physicians, and only 10 of them, .03%, are willing to perform this procedure. We have a higher concentration of convicted rapists and murderers in this country.
I pray that LeRoy Carhart, as he approaches the twilight of his career, repents and spends the remainder of his life protecting life.
I wonder if there is a public record of the number of abortions this man has performed?
I wonder what happened to the women who requested such a murderous deed? Are they "happy?" Or, are they under psychiatric care? Will they ever think about their lost children before they, themselves pass on many years from now? How much mental health care do these women need? Even with a hard heart, time will turn events and attitudes do you not think?
Murder of children is an unnatural act and against 10,000 years of ingrained evolution in our hearts of souls.
I think he just wants some of that lucrative abortion cash....
Talk about your little Eichmanns...
can’t get behind someone to carry on the Recruiters Traditon
Except for Gyns that perform early abortions, where the mother's life is truly in danger, abortionists are failed MDs that quite often have no residency training or have been kicked out of the one they trained for. They are the sludge at the bottom of the medical barrel.
It would be a shame if he suffered the same fate...just a darn shame...
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.