Partial-Birth Abortion Practitioner Wants Expert Witness Protected

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 30, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Partial-Birth Abortion Practitioner Wants Expert Witness Protected

by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 30, 2004

Omaha, NE ( — Partial-birth abortionist Leroy Carhart of Nebraska is one of several abortion advocates challenging the federal partial-birth abortion ban in court. Carhart, who became infamous for taking Nebraska’s ban to the Supreme Court and getting it overturned, now wants his expert witness’ identity concealed as the federal lawsuit moves forward.

Attorneys for Carhart filed papers in federal court in Lincoln, Nebraska on Thursday and said the witness, identified as "Dr. John Doe," should have his name kept confidential. The papers claim the witness has already been "the target of serious violent attacks" and would be subject to further persecution if his name is attached to Carhart’s lawsuit.

Legal papers say "John Doe" performs partial-birth abortions and teaches at a medical school in a large metropolitan area.

Attorneys with the Center for Reproductive Rights, a New York-based pro-abortion law firm, filed suit on behalf of Carhart in October after President Bush signed the legislation into law. Two other cases against it have been filed in federal courts, including one by Planned Parenthood.

Priscilla Smith, of the law firm, would not expand on the claims that "John Doe" has been a victim of attacks because he performs abortions. She did say that he would provide valuable testimony during the trial but that his family and advisors have demanded that he take precautions to keep his name confidential.

The Justice Department is opposing the request. Terry Henry, a Bush administration attorney helping to defend the pro-life law, wrote that keeping Doe’s identity confidential could make it harder for the Justice Department to defend the abortion ban.

Julie Schmit-Albin, the director of Nebraska Right to Life, told that the request shouldn’t be granted.

"LeRoy Carhart challenges the federal ban and then he wants to protect his ‘expert’ witness," Schmit-Albin said. "If Carhart is known as a partial-birth abortionist what’s wrong with his ‘expert’ coming forth? If they all want to defend this brutal procedure then they should be willing to stand up publicly."

He also argued that keeping Doe’s identity confidential is an unusual request and that abortion advocates failed to show he testimony was crucial to their case.

The lawsuits are expected to get a March 29 hearing before a federal judge.