Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Newsweek profile of LeRoy Carhart

We are used to talking about abortion with regard to moral and legal issues to do with access. I found this recent Newsweek article interesting because it reminded me that for some people being a doctor who performs abortions is their job.

LeRoy Carhart is a doctor in Nebraska who worked with George Tiller, the doctor recently murdered in Kansas. Carhart has faced direct attacks, violence and threats of violence but continues to do this work. LeRoy Carhart is 67 and it was difficult not to be impressed by his courage and commitment not only to his work but also to training new doctors.

In the wake of Tiller's assassination, Carhart began offering late-term abortions in his own practice—before, he'd done so only at Tiller's Wichita clinic—and started planning a new late-term clinic to replace Tiller's, where he could see women in the late second and early third trimesters. He's fielded calls from three physicians who want to learn how to do abortions. Two have already begun training. "I think the only thing I can do…is just train as many doctors as I can to go out on their own and provide abortions and get enough people providing them," says Carhart. "That makes [the anti-abortion activist's] job 10 times harder because there are now 10 times more of us."

He won't take long vacations because "you can't leave the women waiting, or at least don't want to." He maintains medical licenses in seven states so that if another provider is "hurt, retired, or killed," he can step in. If women need this service, Carhart reasons, who is he to say no? If he won't provide these complex and challenging abortions, who will?

Good on Newsweek for running this story. It certainly got me thinking about New Zealand and our shortage of obstetricians and gynacologists.


captiver said...

Great link. It's important for women to thank abortion providers whenever we get the chance, especially considering the hostility they face -- yes, even in NZ.
The grinding, relentless attacks do have an impact, but so does appreciation. Closer to home, Hand Mirror readers are probably aware that in Queensland a 19-year-old woman and her boyfriend face prison time after the woman used pills to induce her own abortion, under Queensland's 109-year-old abortion law. There's information at
or at the ALRANZ site (by the way, we have RSS feeds now! Or at least I think we do, but I'm working on finding out how it works. Email us you try and have problems at

captiver said...

...ooops, I should say after she was alleged to have used pills to induce her own abortion.

Anonymous said...

I agree with this post. It made me think of Tiller, specifically a post that was made about him just after he was murdered. Here's the URL: