Dr. LeRoy Carhart is exploring all his options, a spokeswoman for the Omaha-area doctor said Thursday, in light of a first-of-its-kind bill in the country expected to be approved in Nebraska within the next week. Partially aimed at shutting Carhart down, it would ban abortions at and after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on the assertion that fetuses feel pain at that time.
The criteria now used in Nebraska and elsewhere to block abortions is the viability of the fetus, or the ability to live outside the womb.
“He doesn’t have plans to leave, but is exploring his options,” said Carhart’s spokeswoman, Dionne Scott of the Center for Reproductive Rights. Asked if he might begin practicing in Kansas, she said “we are not saying Kansas is out of the question.”
While Nebraska lawmakers are trying to get Carhart to leave, Kansas lawmakers are trying to prevent him from coming there to replace his friend and fellow late-term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, who was shot to death in Wichita last year. A week ago, Scott Roeder was sentenced to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 50 years for gunning Tiller down. Roeder said he killed Tiller to obey “God’s law” to save babies.
Kansas lawmakers recently approved a bill that would require doctors to list an exact medical diagnosis justifying a late-term abortion. It adjusts the definition of viability so that a fetus would be considered viable if there’s a “reasonable probability” it would survive outside the womb with life-sustaining measures such as an incubator.
Also, it codifies a state rule that the required second opinion on whether late-term abortions are necessary come from doctors in Kansas. And it would allow a woman or girl — or family members, in the case of a minor — to sue a doctor if they have evidence that a late-term abortion was illegal.
Kansas Gov. Mark Parkinson, a Democrat who supports abortion rights, must decide within the next week whether to allow it to become law. His spokesman wouldn’t comment Thursday on the governor’s plans.