The abortionist and his No. 1 foe

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Registered: 04-20-2009
The abortionist and his No. 1 foe
Tue, 10-27-2009 - 4:19pm

This story was published on

Bellevue, Nebraska (CNN) -- When you cross The Line of Death onto clinic property, the protesters stare at you. They get on walkie talkies and relay information: Your car. What you look like. Any identifying detail.

"Take a look around you, sir," one woman shouts. "The place is a dump."

The parking lot at Dr. LeRoy Carhart's clinic in Bellevue, Nebraska, is crumbled. A giant sign reads "Abortion & Contraception Clinic of Nebraska." Paint peels off the sides of the building, once a motorcycle shop, a car dealership showroom and an electronics store.

Wooden stairs lead to the front door, where visitors must pass through a metal detector. The office is clean and modernized, a complete contrast to its exterior. The waiting room is lined with leather chairs. A vending machine offers M&Ms, Hershey's and condoms.

Carhart -- one of about 12 doctors who perform late-term abortions in the nation -- sits at a desk piled with paperwork. Decked out in gray cowboy boots, a salmon-colored shirt and khakis, the 67-year-old stares across his windowless office at an unframed poster propped against a wall.

"George Tiller, August 8, 1941 - May 31, 2009," it says.

The poster is a reminder that this isn't an ordinary office. Abortions are performed here, a job that can endanger Carhart. "I'm willing to put my life on the line," he says.

Bellevue, Nebraska, is the new Ground Zero in the nation's abortion debate.

At 10:12 a.m. on that Sunday in late May, Tiller -- Carhart's mentor -- was shot in the head in a church in Wichita, Kansas.

Interactive: Perspectives on abortion

Gallery: Inside abortion war

Carhart was performing an abortion in Procedure Room No. 1 when his cell phone buzzed with the news. He didn't have time to grieve for his best friend. He still had 12 abortions to do.

"I finished them all," he says proudly.

He glances at the poster of Tiller. "I don't want his death to be in vain."

To that end, Carhart is working to open a clinic in Kansas to replace Tiller's, which closed after his death. He is also training five younger doctors in late-term abortions.

That makes Carhart, to his mind, next on the target list. He and Tiller often talked about the possibility of being killed. It was, he says, always in the "back of our mind."

"Would I quit doing what I'm doing because of that? Absolutely not," he says. "I am an abortionist. ... That is what I do."

In Carhart's trash can is a printout from a Web site detailing a protest against him in late August by the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue. "That's where it belongs," he says. "In the trash."

"They're fundamentalist religious terrorists."

If Carhart is the new face of late-term abortions, then Troy Newman of Operation Rescue is his nemesis -- a man on a crusade to end abortions.

More than 300 miles away, in Wichita, he too is preparing for the next skirmish in the abortion war. The protest outside Carhart's clinic will mark the first major demonstration against abortion since Tiller's killing.

Meet Carhart, Newman and others who descended on the clinic in August

Newman wants Carhart out of business and is seeking help in that fight, lobbying lawmakers and other "Pro-Lifers" to aid the battle.

"This is like a heavyweight fighting championship," Newman says. "You've got to keep your footing until the end of the bell."

He says he doesn't know why Carhart hates him so much. "I'd love to meet him."

It's a meeting that will never happen.

"He's not worth the time you and I are spending time talking about him," Carhart says in his soft-spoken voice. "I have abortion on the front of this building, because I think abortion isn't a four-letter word. It's a part of life."

Newman is appalled. In no way is "killing a baby" a way of life, he says. He's fueled by a desire to bring attention to "the inhumanity of mankind." And to him, Carhart personifies just that: a morally repugnant human being. He refuses to call Carhart a doctor.

"Doctors heal people. Abortionists do just the opposite."

Both men started their lives wanting to be preachers. They now preach two different gospels: The right to abortions and the reason why abortions must end.

Each believes God is on his side.

'Train my hands for war'

Troy Newman, 43, twirls the Plexiglas paperweight in his hands, his eyes transfixed on the image inside: the molded face of an aborted fetus. "I can see the baby's perfectly formed chin and nose and ears."

His desk sits in what once was an abortion clinic in Wichita. "Train my hands for war" is painted on his office wall in bold letters. A spear hangs just below the message.

On the opposite wall, a bumper sticker sits on a ledge. "Guns don't kill people, Abortion Clinics kill people." Newman acknowledges the sticker was more appropriate before Tiller was murdered.

As with Carhart's facility, visitors must get buzzed in to enter Operation Rescue. Newman's office has a monitor facing his desk, providing surveillance at all times. He too gets death threats. The ones against his children bug him the most.

It irks him that more people, especially those on the right, don't rally against those who perform late-term abortions. "This is low lying fruit for the Pro-Lifers," he says. "Why can't we shut them down?"

The legal definition of late-term abortion varies from state to state. Medical professionals generally define it as an abortion performed at 24 weeks or beyond, a time in pregnancy when a fetus can survive outside the womb.

What part of wanting to save a baby's life is so bad that it makes people hate me?
--Troy Newman

In 2002, Newman's organization moved from California to Kansas, a state that has restrictions on late-term abortions, including requiring a second physician's approval.

In Wichita, Newman targeted Tiller's clinic and worked through legal means to try to put him out of business. Newman believes Operation Rescue was about two months away from closing Tiller's clinic when he was shot in May. Abortion rights supporters dispute that claim and accuse Operation Rescue of harassing Tiller with endless lawsuits and picketing.

Scott Roeder, an active anti-abortion protester, has been charged in the killing. He has pleaded not guilty.

Newman distances his organization from the killing and refers to Roeder as a "loon and idiot."

"Shooting someone in the head in a church," he says, "is not a Pro-Life act."

Since May 31, Newman has turned his focus to Carhart.

It irritates him that Carhart relishes his work. Anyone who would do that "doesn't have a moral bone in their body."

"If he's so proud of what he's doing, I'm going to put it on the sides of these billboard trucks," says Newman, referring to his fleet of "Truth Trucks," which display graphic images of dismembered fetuses.

"I'll put them in front of their office, I'll put them in their communities, I'll put them down at City Hall. I'll put them everywhere!"

Newman preaches a message of peaceful protest. Of Carhart, he says: "Just praying he turns back to the healing arts and not taking babies' lives."

A staff member, hearing this comment, hollers from across the hall: "Or that he loses his license."

The staffer, Cheryl Sullenger, is Operation Rescue's senior policy adviser. She served time in the late 1980s for conspiracy to blow up a San Diego abortion clinic. The device failed to go off. She has since denounced violence. "It didn't accomplish anything except to keep me away from my family," she says. "My record for the last 20 years should speak for how I feel about violence now."

When Roeder was arrested for the killing of Tiller, Sullenger's phone number was found inside Roeder's car. She says Roeder would call her about court times on legal proceedings against Tiller. "That was the extent of my relationship with him."

Newman says his organization suffered after Tiller's death and that it forced his group to re-establish its core principle: "That all human life is sacred."

Operation Rescue has mostly shifted away from picketing abortion clinics; now, they're scrutinizing doctors' backgrounds, investigating their practices and lobbying local power players to act. The group has pressed Nebraska's state attorney general to investigate Carhart, raising allegations he had clinic workers without proper licensing performing medical duties. Carhart disputes the charges as just more of the same from opponents: unsubstantiated allegations.

But Newman shows an unwavering certainty. "We're winning," he says, smiling from his desk, a giant pair of longhorns mounted on the wall behind him.

The conversation is interrupted by a call on Newman's cell phone. The ring tone is a theme song from one of the Rocky movies, "Eye of the Tiger." The fight is on.

Two paths diverged

Carhart and Newman represent the passionate extremes of the abortion debate. One operates by the law of the land, Roe vs. Wade, and a belief that abortion is "both religious and moral." The other relishes free speech, guided by a love of God and the "humanity of the baby."

Their paths are set to cross at the protest outside Carhart's clinic on this weekend in late August. Yet they took divergent roads long ago -- paths that shaped who they are today, as well as their causes.

Carhart witnessed his first abortion in 1970 while in medical school in Philadelphia. That was before Roe vs. Wade legalized abortions. In Pennsylvania at that time, women wanting abortions had to go before a committee of doctors.

Carhart was struck by the women's explanations. "All of them had the same degree of necessity, how urgent and how important in their life it was for them not to deliver this child."

He opened his first clinic in Omaha in 1988, and moved into his current building in Bellevue, just south of Omaha, in 1994. He charges anywhere from $430 to $10,000 for an abortion. The price depends on how far along the pregnancy is.

Abortion isn't a four-letter word. It's a part of life.
--Dr. LeRoy Carhart

Of the 60,000 abortions he says he's performed, he says about 400 were beyond 24 weeks, so-called late-term abortions. In each case, he says, there was a medical reason for the procedure.

"I am not pro-abortion," he says. "That's the very one clear thing I want you to understand. Abortion is not the right answer for every pregnancy."

The latest abortion he's ever performed was at 36 weeks, he says, because the fetus had not developed a brain. His youngest patient was 10, a victim of incest.

Carhart doesn't mask his language. He's open and honest about what he does, sometimes uncomfortably so.

"We do kill fetuses," he says. "It dies because we give an injection into the fetus that causes the heart to just slowdown."

While Carhart was setting up shop in the Midwest, a young Troy Newman became immersed in the anti-abortion movement on the West Coast.

It was 1991 when he was shown a photograph of an aborted fetus. "That was the start," he says. "I said, 'This can't be happening in our country.'"

Newman had no idea then that he would become one of the nation's most outspoken activists against abortion -- despised by women's groups and supporters of abortion rights.

"I always wonder: What part of wanting to save a baby's life is so bad that it makes people hate me?"

The issue is also personal. Being adopted makes it that way.

Abortion Facts
About one-fifth of the 6.4 million pregnancies occurring annually in the U.S. end in abortion, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

About 19 percent of women having abortions in the U.S. are teens; 33 percent are between the ages of 20 and 24; and 48 percent are ages 25 and older, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

About 89 percent of legal abortions in the U.S. are performed before 12 weeks of gestation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 1 percent of abortions occur after 21 weeks of gestation.

He grew up knowing he was adopted as an infant, yet he never knew anything about his biological parents. In the early 1990s, after his adoptive father died and Newman's first child was born, he began to search for his biological father, Ron Mariotti.

He penned a letter to his dad in 1994 and included photos of his family. On a Sunday morning in San Diego, his phone rang.

"I've been waiting for this phone call for 27 years," Newman told his dad.

Both men cried.

Of his dedication to stop abortions, he says, "Maybe it hits me a little bit closer to home. ... I'm not a 'problem' to be gotten rid of."

Symbolic but not decisive

A Truth Truck rolls up outside Carhart's clinic on the day of the protest, the last Saturday in August. The tattooed driver smiles as the vehicle comes to a stop, with its shocking photos of dismembered fetuses for all to see. It parks next to another Truth Truck in an area police designated as "Pro-Life."

Women gasp.

Carhart supporters quickly huddle with police and scramble to find a vehicle of their own. They're allowed to park an SUV near the Truth Trucks, in a "Pro-Choice" protest area. Abortion rights supporters hastily adorn their vehicle with posters: "Keep abortion legal."

It's a symbolic contest, but not decisive -- much like the protest this day.

By the time Troy Newman arrives, his supporters are outnumbered 2 to 1. Women's rights groups have traveled from all over the country, from California to New York to Pennsylvania, to support Carhart.

Newman strolls along a temporary orange snow-fence that separates both factions. He tries to hand ultrasound pictures to his opponents.

"Did you want one of these pictures?" he says, his arm outstretched.

The opposition stands with their backs turned. "Welcome! Welcome! This clinic stays open," they shout.

A day earlier, inside the clinic, women's rights groups hailed Carhart as a hero, a champion of their cause. He was moved to tears.

But on this day, he is mostly oblivious to what's happening outside. He's too busy performing abortions.

As the first major protest since Tiller's killing, the events this day have attracted an extra level of security. The man who has become America's most-visible doctor who performs abortions is more concerned about what comes next, after the protesters and the cameras go away.

"You try to do all you can to prevent it, but obviously Dr. Tiller thought he was safe in church." He pauses. "I didn't."

The man who once wanted to be a preacher stopped going to church around 1989, for his own safety. He found a different calling.

Tomorrow, just before and after performing abortions, Carhart will pray at the bedside of his patients.

Newman will pray, too -- that the abortionist will change his ways.

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iVillage Member
Registered: 04-10-2003
Fri, 11-06-2009 - 5:54pm


Again, no- abortion kills embryos and fetuses. One is not a human *being* until birth.



Division 3 - Homicide: Suicide: Concealment of Birth: Abortion

156. When a child becomes a human being A child becomes a person capable of being killed when it has completely proceeded in a living state from the body of its mother, whether it has breathed or not and whether the umbilical cord is severed or not.


(Hansard Extract)

Currently a human being is defined in section 223(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada as follows: A child becomes a human being within the meaning of this Act when it has completely proceeded, in a living state, from the body of its mother, whether or not

(a) it has breathed,
(b) it has independent circulation, or
(c) the navel string is severed.


In current United States law, at the moment of birth a biological being becomes a human being. By contrast, in declaring in 1973 that abortion is a permissible medical procedure, the U.S. Supreme Court said, "The unborn have never been recognized in the law as persons in the whole sense." (Hardin 1982:138) The transition to the status of full humanity is viewed not as a biological fact, but as a legal or cultural fact. There is a practical aspect pointed out by Retired Supreme Court Justice Tom Clark: the moment of birth is known, but the moment of conception is speculative. "...the law deals in reality not obscurity--the known rather than the unknown. When sperm meets egg, life may eventually form, but quite often it does not. The law does not deal in speculation." (Swomley 1983:1)


DISCUSSION POINT: What is a human being?

What do the Courts say about this?

The courts have asked this question in relation to the foetus and a corpse. In this context the courts are very much guided by medical opinion, and less by moral principles. The central question they ask themselves is at what stage in the process of birth does a foetus become a person, and at what stage in the process of death does a person become a corpse. Essentially the courts have decided that foetuses and corpses are not persons.



iVillage Member
Registered: 08-27-2007
Fri, 11-06-2009 - 6:31pm

You think that a man who has a wife and family gets to end the life of a human being in the womb and yet, you have a problem with another man who kills him because he felt he had his choice to do as he pleased?

I'm waiting for you to please point out WHERE I said or implied the above.

And how does this make any sense anyhow? What choice did this man kill or not kill a grown man in a manner that is deemed illegal. Well gee, I'm gonna say that what he did was wrong and well..illegal.

Abortion dr's kill human beings lives in the womb as a job. Mafia hitmen have family and loved ones too, and they choose to kill human beings lives too.

              *Praying for my best friend, my Dad*


iVillage Member
Registered: 08-13-2007
Fri, 11-06-2009 - 6:41pm

Hello, whether it meets the standard of what someone *opinion* "describes" as a human being (breathing on its own, having the naval disconnected), therefore giving rights to it, doesn't change the fact that it is human. "certain" rights don't give value or meaning to a human being, it is just law.

It is a separate individual in the womb, despite the fact that he/she lives off of the mothers body for growth during that approx 9 month period of time.

A baby can be born at 20wks and survive and some won't. Doesn't make the one that didn't any less of a human being because it "couldn't" survive on its own. There are babies that come out not breathing and still attached to the mother, does that baby have an more value or dignity than one who came out screaming and immediately had its cord cut?

We simply can't start deciding who has a right to end a human beings life because "someone" by law says so. My children all started out in the womb, like everybody else did, and they moved and kicked me and even one hiccuped inside and does to this very day. They certainly, even in their beginning stages of *THEIR* lives were beings. They needed me, yes, but it didn't change the fact that my hubby and me helped created this new life and that same little life in its immaturity, is still the SAME human being that they are today (just bigger and more mature and "still" needing me lol)

* All human beings deserve respect *

Abortion stops a beating heart :(
* All human beings deserve respect * Abortion stops a beating heart :(
iVillage Member
Registered: 08-13-2007
Fri, 11-06-2009 - 6:45pm

Breathing is you "difference". It is not the human being involved that is being killed whether by a grown man doing it to a Dr who does abortions or the doctor who does abortions doing it to a human being in the womb.

I am not talking legalities here. I am talking facts. Laws change, yet it is all a matter of opinion anyway. I am talking about a human being killed at the hands of another human being.

This article is about an abortion doctor who does late term abortions. Your post sounded like what this man did was wrong and yet, the dr who does kill the life of an innocent human being who is defenseless is "okay" because some human beings opinion made it a law that said one is legal and one is not.

* All human beings deserve respect *

Abortion stops a beating heart :(
* All human beings deserve respect * Abortion stops a beating heart :(
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-03-2009
Fri, 11-06-2009 - 6:49pm

~You bought up the fact that people who are pro-life should be ...~

No, instead "groups like operation rescue", ie. not individuals.

~you have no right to CLAIM that people are responsible for ...~

She didn't claim that.

~Most abortions are done on young girls. STATS have shown that they..~

Please provide stats showing that most are done on "young girls" and why.

~stop pushing off responsibility, like you are doing, on prolifers ...~

a) I'm sure she will take responsibility

b) she's prolife.

~That is the job of parents.~

What about the kids whose parents won't/don't their job?


iVillage Member
Registered: 08-30-2005
Fri, 11-06-2009 - 6:56pm

"Most abortions are done on young girls. STATS have shown that they are having sex to please their bf's or one night stands,so that they don't lose them. THIS is what needs to be addressed. THIS is a real problem...NOT the after affect of whether or not she gets pregnant or an STD."

Please show these stats from an unbiased source, thanks.

Considering a larger percentage of abortions are done on women aged 20-24 than on teenage girls, I have a hard time believing your claim that these adult women (not "young girls") are engaging in sex solely out of insecurity and desperation.

iVillage Member
Registered: 08-13-2007
Fri, 11-06-2009 - 7:12pm

Another thing that I forgot to add to my other reply to you, regarding what the "law" says, is that these same law makers who say that it is a womens right to do with her body what she will (ever though her childs body is not her body), are FORCING people to receive immunizations against their will.

How ironic huh? I am FORCED to put foreign stuff in MY body because the law says so. Isn't that a contradition?

In other words, they are not consistent and therefore, their opinions as to what should be and what shouldn't be, changes with "their" opinions, even if it contradicts.

* All human beings deserve respect *

Abortion stops a beating heart :(
* All human beings deserve respect * Abortion stops a beating heart :(
iVillage Member
Registered: 11-03-2009
Fri, 11-06-2009 - 7:13pm

~WRONG no matter ...~ ~NOBODY has a right to end...~

Does this include killing in battle, in self defence, executions, and by use of HBC?

~Hello, whether it meets the standard of what someone *opinion*~

To clarify, she offered legal definitions, not simply "someone's opinion".

~more value~

As an aside, Biblically the fetus has less value than the mother.

~We simply can't start deciding who....~

We did, and we have.

Re: terminology you are welcome to use whichever you prefer, as will others.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-03-2009
Fri, 11-06-2009 - 7:15pm

~I am FORCED to put foreign stuff in MY body because the law says so.?

What "law", and who is forcing you?


iVillage Member
Registered: 04-10-2003
Fri, 11-06-2009 - 7:18pm


Ah- and one's opinion that it a human in utero has no bearing on a woman's right to make her own reproductive health care choices.


Um no- it is an organism nestled deep within the woman's uterus presenting very real short and long term risks to her health.


What makes them a human being with rights of personhood is the separation form the woman and the cessation of the very real short and long term risk to her health.


On the contrary, we simple can't start deciding to subrogate the rights of a woman to autonomously pursue her health care choices, and it is the basis of the short and long term risks to her health and life tat forms the foundation for the right to choose to continue gestation and give birth or terminate the pregnancy. To do so imposes one set of risks upon an unwilling woman and is akin to both rape and slavery.

<< My children all started out in the womb, like everybody else did, and they moved and kicked me and even one hiccuped inside and does to this very day. They certainly, even in their beginning stages of *THEIR* lives were beings>>

Your opinion. Mine is that they were not *beings* until birth, <> You govern your body by your own morals and leave the uterus(es)/uterii? of other woman to them.