Iowa Lawmakers to Push Bills to Limit Late-Term Abortion Practitioner

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Nov 24, 2010   |   5:58PM   |   Des Moines, IA

When the newly-elected officials take their positions in January in Des Moines, pro-life advocates expect them to push for legislation that would focus on late-term abortion practitioner Leroy Carhart.

He’s the Nebraska-based abortion practitioner who reacted to passage of a law banning abortions after 20 weeks based on the concept of fetal pain by announcing he would expand elsewhere.

Carhart promised to expand his late-term abortion business to Maryland and Iowa as well as to take over an abortion center in Indianapolis, Indiana, but he saw a setback on Monday night as the Council Bluffs, Iowa city council took its first step to keep him out.

The Iowa state legislature may take the second step, according to Chuck Hurley, president of the Iowa Family Policy Center Action.

He told the CitizenLink publication of Focus on the Family that Iowa’s incoming Republican leadership in the state House vows to pass pro-life bills in 2011, including legislation related to Carhart.

“We have a crisis now that has got the attention of House-speaker elect Kraig Paulsen,” Hurley said. “When Carhart announced that he was going to metastasize his evil deeds – he was going to take his late-term abortion practice into other states – the natural place to go was across the river into Council Bluffs, Iowa.”

“There’s going to be legislation to try to limit – or eliminate – these ‘telemed’ abortions,” he said. “I have talked to several of the new legislators. They will be also pushing for a clear statement on the personhood of every human being from the moment of conception.”

He added that he believes the state Senate, controlled by pro-abortion Democrats, will be the biggest hurdle in getting legislation approved.

But, if the legislation can get to the desk of Governor-elect Terry Branstad, he has already said he would sign pro-life bills into law.

“I think it’s a violation of the law,” Branstad said in an interview in October about the telemed abortion practice. “I think it’s wrong and I think a lot of Iowans feel it’s wrong, and I don’t think it should continue.”

“They are claiming that this amounts to an examination, but that’s not the way that I would interpret an examination. An examination is when you really see the patient,” the former president of the Des Moines University osteopathic medical college said. “But an issue as significant as a pregnancy and abortion and doing that over telemedicine without ever seeing the patient, I don’t think it’s right.“I think it should be discontinued. Legally, I’m not sure what role the governor has in that. But I certainly don’t think that’s appropriate.”

Jennifer Bowen, the director of Iowa Right to Life, already said the 2010 elections put the pro-life movement in a position to promote legislation like the fetal pain bill in Nebraska that bans abortions after 20 weeks and is prompting Carhart’s proposed relocation.

“A seeming blow like this, a late-term abortionist set to move his killing into the state, I believe will actually work in our favor,” she said. “I can say with confidence that the majority of Iowans do not want ours to be seen as a safe haven state for a late- term abortionist.”

Because of the problem of Planned Parenthood expanding abortion with the use of the controversial telemed abortion procedure, Bowen says pro-life groups are reinvigorated and ready to work with newly-elected officials on legislation or investigations of abortion practitioners like Carhart.

“Our growing pro-life coalition of more than five dozen state and national organizations and individuals will continue to strengthen in unity. Such a clear message will be sent to LeRoy Carhart in the coming weeks, both from the groundswell of pro-lifers and our pro-life legislators set to head into session in January, that this will become the last place Carhart will want to move,” she promised.