OMAHA, Neb. - A Nebraska doctor said yesterday 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, but insisted that "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 that the slain doctor's 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.
Nebraska law does not allow an abortion if the fetus is considered viable, or able to survive outside the womb. Kansas law allows abortions on viable fetuses after the 21st week if carrying the pregnancy to term would endanger the mother's life or cause a "substantial and irreversible impairment" of a major bodily function. Courts have interpreted a "major bodily function" to include mental health.
Carhart said that he has not performed any abortion past the 22nd week of pregnancy at his own clinic because he never trained his staff to do them.
Carhart said that he has already seen more patients at his Bellevue clinic since Tiller's was closed after he was shot May 31 while serving as an usher at his church. Scott Roeder, a 51-year-old Kansas City, Mo., resident, has been charged with first-degree murder. *