Iowa Senate OKs Weak Abortion Bill Targeting Leroy Carhart

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 17, 2011   |   11:37AM   |   Des Moines, IA

The Iowa Senate, on Monday night, passed a weak bill that pro-life groups and lawmakers are not supporting that supposedly targets late-term abortion practitioner LeRoy Carhart but that does so insufficiently.

Instead of allowing a vote on a House-passed bill that mimics a Nebraska law by banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy based on the scientific evidence showing unborn children feel intense pain, Sen. Joe Bolkcom, the floor manager of House File 657 in the Senate, and Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal replaced the bill with new legislation. The new measure targets Carhart and his potential plans to move his abortion business from Nebraska to Council Bluffs, Iowa following the passage of the 20-week abortion ban there.

However, although the bill would make it so Carhart can’t open up shop in the Omaha suburb of Council Bluffs, he could still open an abortion business elsewhere in the state that meets the conditions of the legislation. The bill would use the Certificate of Need process to require that “a new abortion facility which performs abortions after 20 weeks post-fertilization is in close proximity to an Iowa hospital, with the appropriate level of perinatal care to protect the life or health of the woman and the fetus.”

That wouldn’t have anywhere near the impact of a 20-week abortion ban but would supposedly stop Carhart from moving to Council Bluffs because no such hospital in the Omaha suburb would be able to meet the requirement of the legislation. Bolkcom said the only hospitals in the state that would meet the requirements are ones in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Davenport and Iowa City — meaning Carhart could open up there.

With 26 Democrats voting yes and 23 Republicans opposed, the Iowa state Senate passed the new bill Monday night and now the bill goes to the state House where House Speaker Kraig Paulsen, a Republican, indicates it will not likely be approved.

During the debate, Republicans blasted the bill for paving the way for Carhart and other late-term abortion practitioners to open up in the state.

“I am sick that this bill actually sets up a pathway for late-term abortionists to set up work here in Iowa. I call this “the late-term abortionists’ invitation bill,” ” said Sen. Nancy Boettger, R-Harlan, according to the Des Moines Register.

Sen. Randy Feenstra, another Republican, added, “I am really concerned why we are doing this bill and if it is being done for the right reasons. I struggle because a baby’s life is important and none of us should have the ability to take that away.”  Sen. Brad Zaun, a Republican, called the bill “a sham, it disgusts me, and we should be ashamed of ourselves.”

“What you have in front of you today is a bill that will make it incredibly unlikely, but not impossible,” for a late-term abortion business to open, Gronstal admitted.

The newspaper indicated Senate Republicans tried unsuccessfully to use a procedural motion to bring the House-approved 20-week abortion ban to the floor, but Democrats prevented that from happening. Although all Republicans and two Democrats signed a petition to bring the ban to the floor, Gronstal prevented it and brought up the new bill instead.

Operation Rescue officials said before the vote that it is not good enough and noticed that Bolkom’s wife is Karen Kubby, the former director of an abortion business in Iowa City.

Cheryl Sullenger, Senior Policy Advisor for the pro-life group, said Bolkom “introduced the new bill in a spurious effort to appease those who want to prevent LeRoy Carhart from establishing a late-term abortion business in Council Bluffs. However Bolkcom’s bill would allow late-term abortions in four Iowa cities, including his home town, where hospital are located that provide Level II or Level III perinatal care. Council Bluffs has no such facility.”

“Bolkcom is the husband of Karen Kubby, the former director of the Emma Goldman abortion clinic in Iowa City. Kubby is known for being a high-ranking member of the Socialist Party and, like her husband, an activist for radical liberal causes,” Sullenger continued. “In addition, Bolkcom has received campaign contributions from Planned Parenthood, which actively opposed HF 657, but has given tacit approval for Bolkcom’s smoke-and-mirrors abortion scheme.”

Sullenger says Bolkcom’s bill would make it more difficult, but not impossible, for Carhart to establish a late-term abortion business in Iowa.

“However, the language actually protects and encourages a late-term abortion business, especially in Iowa City where late-term abortions are already being done on a small scale. Planned Parenthood’s Jill Meadows provides abortion training at their clinic in Iowa City,” she said. “Meadows is known for aggressively defending late-term abortions. When going by her maiden name of Vibhaker, she sued with LeRoy Carhart to defend the grisly late-term Partial Birth Abortion method that has since been banned in the U.S.”

“Bolkcom’s bill would open the door to Planned Parenthood to expand their late-term abortion operation without competition from Carhart,” Sullenger said.

“This is really about who gets to claim the lucrative late-term abortion market share, where abortion fees have been known to range from around $5,000 to over $20,000. Bolkcom is attempting to deny that market share to Carhart while protecting it for his cronies at the Emma Goldman clinic and his campaign contributors at Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, which is on currently on an abortion expansion binge. In fact, Bolkcom’s bill has nothing to do with protecting women but rather endangers them,” she said.

Meanwhile, Troy Newman says Bolkcom is misleading Iowa residents on when late-term abortions are done by claiming the reason for the abortions as to save the lives of the mothers. Operation Rescue spent years documenting abuses at the late-term abortion business in Kansas where LeRoy Carhart was employed.

“Bolkcom is misleading the people as to the true reasons why women have late-term abortions. In the long history of such abortions in Kansas, there has never been a single incident where a woman received a late-term abortion to save her life. Not one,” said Newman. “Women get abortions late because of denial of their pregnancy, for convenience, or because they do not want to cope with a complicated pregnancy. Abortion is not a cure to any medical condition. In my opinion, Bolkcom is a corrupt politician that is trying to dupe a person into believing something that is just not true.”

Newman says it is late-term abortions that present significant risks to the mothers that undergo them, including documented maternal deaths. Ambulances rushing women to emergency rooms were a routine sight in Wichita, Kansas, prior to the closing of a late-term abortion center there where Carhart did abortions.