WBUR

Dr. Tiller’s Successor Defends Late-Term Abortion

BOSTON — One of the country’s last remaining providers of late-term abortion is in town this weekend to speak at the annual conference of the National Organization for Women, NOW, the largest group of feminist activists in the United States.

Dr. Leroy Carhart, a physician in Nebraska, has taken over the practice of Dr. George Tiller, who was killed last year by an abortion opponent. Clearly, it’s a dangerous job. When Carhart travels to conferences and speaking engagments like this one, he does so with protection from the U.S. Marshal.

So why do this kind of work when it’s such a personal risk? “Someone has to do it,” he says. “Women that are not able to control their fertility do not have a chance to succeed in society. I feel that the anti-abortion movement is purely an anti-woman movement to keep them literally in their place.”

Carhart says he considers abortion rights to be civil rights that need to be protected.

Late-term abortions, defined as those performed after the 24th week of pregnancy, are much more controversial than are abortions performed in the earlier stages. Carhart says he understands that some people can’t fathom how a potential mother could undergo the procedure so late in her pregnancy, but says those people still have no right to interfere with another person’s choice.

Carhart says such abortions are extremely rare, with less than a thousand performed in the United States every year — and only when there is a significant compromise to the health or life of the mother or the fetus. “It’s major genetic defects that are usually incompatible with life after birth,” Carhart says of the conditions under which a fetus would be considered appropriate for late-term abortion.

Carhart says there is no specific time within a pregnancy at which he would not perform an abortion, but “as the pregnancy develops, the reasons need to be more and more compelling to do it,” he says.

The doctor regularly turns down abortion requests — twice this week, in fact. Carhart says he will not perform an abortion when a mother simply has not discovered that she is pregnant until the third term of her pregnancy. In that case, if the woman is not prepared to be a mother she should pursue alternative options such as adoption or foster care, Carhart says.

Pressed on whether he might ever regret his decision to perform abortions, Carhart was steadfast in his conviction. “I lived in a time when abortion was not available,” he says. “I saw the desperate ends that women go to when abortion is not available.”

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on wbur.org.
  • James Enright

    Mr. Carhart is a killer for hire. He has a very lucretive business here in the Omaha area.He hates pro-lifers because they have turned hundreds of potential customers away from his abortion mill here.Many are praying for his conversion to the pro-life side and for his soul, which is in jeopardy right now.

  • Glenda

    When the life of a human being is not safe even in the mother’s womb, something is going very wrong in America and in the world. It is incredible!

    The unborn has truly become the captive, fragile, defenseless innocent victim of those who in the name of choice and legality profit from the crime of abortion.

    I pray that sooner rather than later they will see the gravity of their actions.

  • Hope

    In my opinion, Mr. Carhart is a sick man. There are never reasons to have an abortion even so late in pregnancy. Esp when the baby has started moving inside and she can feel it. The public needs to be educated on what abortion really is and the real ricks there are. If a woman skips her period or whatever there are tests does he not realize that. Give people the right to health care for free and there will be no problem.

  • JB

    To look at another point of view, Dr. Carhart is not advocating for indiscriminate killing. The outcomes of having a child with severe physical and mental handicaps extends far beyond the reach of the individual family. Dr. Carhart should be commended for his sympathies, as it seems clear that the women he treats are not ones who want to make this chioce, but have to. It is not a choice that anyone WANTS to make, but it is necessary that the choice be available.

  • linda nicholson

    how could you think a men like that should be commended? if yo think that then you must be just as sick

Most Popular