Late Abortion Care Will Return to Kansas

When I learned the other day that Dr. Tiller’s clinic Women’s Health Care Services would not reopen with new providers, I found the news extremely depressing and lamented the significantly reduced access to much-needed, and sometimes life-saving, abortion care.

Now, against the odds, it turns out that another brave abortion provider is stepping in to take Dr. Tiller’s place, and provide late abortions in Kansas (h/t):

A Nebraska doctor said Wednesday that he will perform third-term abortions in Kansas after the slaying of abortion provider George Tiller, but would not say whether he will open a new facility or offer the procedure at an existing practice.

Dr. LeRoy Carhart declined to discuss his plans in detail during a telephone interview with The Associated Press, but insisted “there will be a place in Kansas for the later second- and the medically indicated third-trimester patients very soon.”

“I just think that until everything is in place, it’s something that doesn’t need to be talked about” in detail, Carhart said a day after Tiller’s family announced his Wichita clinic was permanently shutting its doors.

Tiller’s clinic was one of the only facilities in the country that performed third-trimester abortions. Carhart has run his own clinic in Bellevue, Neb., since 1985, but had performed late-term abortions at Tiller’s clinic because of Nebraska’s more restrictive abortion laws.

Dr. Carhart was a long-term friend and colleague of Dr. Tiller, and had worked with him on past occasions. He had also previously been a part of plans to reopen Dr. Tiller’s clinic and provide services there along with two other doctors, before Dr. Tiller’s family ultimately decided that the facility would not reopen. Apparently determined to ensure that late abortions are still available in the state (which has significantly less restrictive late abortion laws than many others), he has now developed alternate plans. And I know that I, surely along with countless other advocates, am breathing a huge sigh of relief.  The women and otherwise identifying people (some intersex and genderqueer individuals and trans men, for example) who will unfortunately need late abortion services have likely just been spared a lot of additional pain and/or health risk.

Dr. Carhart also has a long history as a reproductive rights hero.  He has been an abortion provider since 1985, has long provided late abortions himself, and reports an increase in patients at his clinic since Dr. Tiller’s murder less than two weeks ago.  And you may recognize his name from the infamous Gonzales v. Carhart Supreme Court case, which upheld the ban on so-called “partial birth” abortions.  Dr. Carhart had challenged the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act on the basis that it provided no exception for a patient’s health.  Though the case was lost at the highest level, it was a correct and absolutely necessary challenge.  Now, he is stepping in to fill Dr. Tiller’s shoes, knowing full well the kind of terror that is almost certainly awaiting him, merely for his determination to provide a legal medical service.

So, thank you Dr. Carhart.  I am beyond grateful for your strong commitment to reproductive health and rights.  And I can only believe that Dr. Tiller would be extremely pleased.

cross-posted at the Curvature

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25 comments for “Late Abortion Care Will Return to Kansas

  1. Michele
    June 11, 2009 at 1:08 pm

    what a hero. claps for Dr. Carhart, definitely. I’m so incredibly glad to hear this.

  2. Ori
    June 11, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    I’m so relieved. Dr. Carhart’s courage and dedication will be appreciated by countless pro-choice people.

  3. June 11, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    If they’re not going to re-open the clinic, it would be nice if they could turn the spot into a playground in honor of Dr. Tiller and as a celebration of families: mothers and children, and women who were able to continue being mothers because Dr. Tiller saved their life. Nothing that would scare the kids, obviously, but something that would get the point across that there are families together today because of Dr. Tiller’s good work.

    Apart from reinforcing the reality of late-term abortion instead of the wingnut fantasy about murderous sluts, it would look pretty bad for the anti-choice if they defaced a PLAYGROUND. Salt the earth: don’t give them any opportunity to take over the dialog. They assassinated a doctor, and now they can put up and shut up or bring the full brunt of public outrage upon them for hating on women and children.

  4. June 11, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    wow, how brave…

  5. June 11, 2009 at 1:17 pm


  6. June 11, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    which has significantly less restrictive abortion laws than many others

    Which states have significantly more restrictive abortions laws than Kansas? NARAL’s “Who Decides” gives Kansas a D-. Kansas has a fair number of incremental laws regulating certain abortion practices. Many of them haven’t always been enforced (like Kansas’ post-viability ban) but that doesn’t mean the laws aren’t there.

  7. June 11, 2009 at 1:22 pm

    JivinJ — I’m referring specifically to laws regarding late abortions, which allow post-viability abortions when a patient’s health is at risk. Nebraska, as the linked article above notes, does not allow the same, and they’re not the only one. I will however update the post to properly insert the word “late.”

  8. Suzanne M
    June 11, 2009 at 1:30 pm

    First good news I’ve heard in a while. Thank you for your heroism, Dr. Carhart.

  9. June 11, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    I heard about this from a friend earlier today – he is just so incredibly brave. Fight on Dr. Carhart.

  10. June 11, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    Ummmm….According to NARAL, Nebraska’s post-viability abortion ban has a life and health exception and it doesn’t have the part of the legislation like Kansas law which requires a second physician (not financially tied to the first) sign off on the abortion.

    Just because an AP article says something, doesn’t mean it’s true.

  11. June 11, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    JivinJ, I was going to comment that I’m sure Dr. Carhart has just flown to Kansas to perform late abortions at Dr. Tiller’s clinic rather than training his own staff just because it’s so much more efficient that way, but your comment annoyed me to the extent that I decided to check your previous comments to determine whether or not you were likely arguing in good faith. And after that, I’m officially bored with the idea of engaging you.

    Carry on, folks, there’s nothing here to see.

  12. kaninchen
    June 11, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    Dr. Carhart is a brave, brave man. The people who created the environment that radicalized Scott Roeder to the point where he felt entitled to murder Dr. Tiller should be ashamed. Of course they never are.

  13. Collie
    June 11, 2009 at 2:09 pm

    Is there any way to contact Dr. Carhart to say thank you?

  14. June 11, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    Collie — I’m unaware of one at the moment. For obvious reasons, a lot of abortion providers like to keep contact information fairly quiet. And while Dr. Tiller had his own website with the address of his clinic on it (where I once sent him a letter, and received a response to), everything I’m coming up with when searching for Dr. Carhart is basically anti-choice crap.

    That said, if anyone knows of one or learns of one, or if an organization decides to start a campaign of forwarding on such letters, please tell me and I’ll happily post that info.

  15. Kathleen F.
    June 11, 2009 at 2:21 pm

    While this is very good news, I really hope he has a good plan for security.

  16. June 11, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    Because it apparently and sadly has to be said: I’m not going to let this thread get derailed.

    That being the case, all but one of you are doing just fine and haven’t gotten comments deleted for being purposely obnoxious, derailing and baiting. So carry on!

  17. June 11, 2009 at 2:54 pm

    Cara and or Collie,
    The web site of Carhart’s clinic is here.

    It doesn’t appear to be the most up-to-date web site but it does have an address in the maps section.

  18. June 11, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    i am very happy to see this and i hope that dr. carhart keeps safe.

  19. Erin
    June 11, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    This is awesome news. <3

  20. William
    June 11, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    All I can say is that this is incredible news and that I hope he has the good sense to take advantage of Kansas’ concealed carry law.

  21. June 13, 2009 at 12:35 pm

    This is great news for the women of Kansas, but it’s also good news for women nation-wide.

  22. jaquita harris
    June 15, 2009 at 12:24 am

    I’m sick of all the abortion providers being old fat white patriarchal men. I’d rather get on a plane and go to a place with some familiar faces rather than submit myself to a racist white machine who could never understand what its like to have a baby, an abortion, or be a woman. Dr Carhart and his colleagues should be ashamed of themselves for not doing more to recruit minority and female ob/gyn abortion providers to their practice.

  23. marilove
    June 15, 2009 at 11:11 am

    Wow, jaquita harris. I can understand your concern and desire for more women to provide abortions, but to be a complete jerk about it is unecessary. “old fat white patriarchal men” — patriarchal, how? Because they are … pro-choice? “racist white machine” — so you know they are racist, now? You know them personally?

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