Nebraska abortion doctor moves practice after state ban

OMAHA, Nebraska (Reuters) - A Nebraska doctor who has become the nation’s best-known provider of late-term abortions said on Wednesday he will open clinics in other states because of a new law banning the procedure in his home state.

Dr. LeRoy Carhart said he plans to open abortion clinics in neighboring Council Bluffs, Iowa, and outside Washington, D.C., in Maryland in the coming months.

Council Bluffs is across the Missouri River from his current practice in the Omaha suburb of Bellevue.

Nebraska’s law that took effect October 15 banned abortions at 20 weeks after fertilization or later unless the woman’s life was in danger or to prevent major physical problems.

The law has not been challenged yet, but Carhart said he is mulling a lawsuit. He said he wants to make sure medically indicated, late-term abortions are available to women.

“We can’t do them here, so we went where the laws are the best, and it’s convenient (for patients),” he said in a telephone interview.

A federal ban on late-term abortions has been proposed in Congress, but the legislation has never passed. A federal ban on partial-birth abortions was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2007. Partial birth is a technique sometimes used in late term abortions.

Carhart was a friend and colleague of late-term abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, of Wichita, Kansas, who was murdered by an abortion opponent in 2009. Previously, Carhart had referred patients who wanted abortions after 22 weeks to Tiller.

Initially, Carhart will be the only doctor at the new clinics, but eventually there will be others, he said.

Carhart also plans to expand a clinic in Indianapolis to provide more sexual education and contraceptive services. He said his efforts are being supported by a foundation he would not name.

Editing by Andrew Stern and Greg McCune