Females from all over the country will travel to Iowa for late-term abortions if the state senate does not act quickly, according to pro-life organization Operation Rescue. Leroy Carhart is the country’s foremost practitioner of late-term abortions. He plans to open a clinic in the Council Bluffs area very soon, even promoting it on his website.
House File 657 is a bill aimed at blocking Carhart from coming to Iowa, by banning abortions after 20 weeks. It should be discharged soon from the Government Oversight Committee, opening it for full debate in the Iowa Senate. The bill’s fate there remains unknown.
Carhart was forced to shut down his Nebraska clinic after that state passed a law similar to the one proposed in Iowa. Indiana just joined three other states that have recently enacted similar legislation. A dozen others are considering it. Carhart recently opened a late-term abortion clinic in Germantown, Maryland, but is now under investigation from that state’s Board of Physicians.
“Late-term abortions are his bread and butter,” said Operation Rescue policy adviser Cheryl Sullenger. “If he is shutdown in Maryland, he’s going to look to another place to do them and Iowa is his next target. The last thing you want to be known as if the late-term abortion capital of the country.”
According to Iowa Right to Life, some Democrats have voiced support for the legislation, including Senate President Jack Kibbie. However, they do not know if there are enough votes to pass the bill. Planned Parenthood is now lobbying against it.
The biggest obstacle to the legislation remains Senator Majority Leader Mike Gronstal. He presides over the district Carhart wants to set up shop in, but refused to encourage the committee to bring the bill forward. It has sat there since March 31st. How Gronstal will vote on the legislation remains unclear.
Gronstal is catching heat politically for his inaction. The Council Bluffs Nonpareil, which has usually been very friendly to its hometown senator, published an op-ed earlier this week ripping Gronstal. Council Bluffs Mayor Tom Hanafan, a Democrat, is urging the legislature to act. 10,000 people have signed Iowa Right to Life’s petition to prevent late-term abortions.
Mary Ann Hanusa represents the Council Bluffs area in the Iowa House. She says her constituents are adamantly opposed to Carhart coming there. “They are frightened,” she said. “They are very much in favor of having the legislature take action to prevent him from coming into Council Bluffs, number one, but also to prevent this heinous procedure from going on in our state.”
Operation Rescue says babies’ lives are not the only ones at risk to Carhart’s practices. They have documented several instances when Carhart’s patients in Kansas were rushed to the hospital. One 19 year old patient who suffered from Down Syndrome died due to Carhart’s incompetence, according Operation Rescue.
“If this bill is passed, we’ll help protect women from exploitation from this guy. It’s really all about money with him,” Sullenger said. “The hospital won’t allow him to darken the doorway and now that state has actually banned that procedure so he can’t come and set up shop there. But in Iowa, there are no protections for women.”
Sullenger says the current bill would also close a loophole that allows late-term abortions to protect the health of the mother. House File 657 only allows late-term abortions if there is a threat to the mother’s life. She says that’s in important distinction. “In the long history of late-term abortions in the state of Kansas, there is not one single recorded incident of a late-term abortion to save a mother’s life. It’s never happened.”
Iowa Right to Life is pleading with the state senate to support the legislation. “We ask to protect Iowa from further becoming a safe haven state for late term abortions,” said Right to Life director Jennifer Bowen. “The lives of our future children will hang in the balance.” Mr. Gronstal, are you listening?
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