After a Kansas abortion provider was murdered on May 31 and his Wichita, Kansas clinic closed, other physicians stepped in to fill the gap. Among them was Dr. LeRoy Carhart who announced that he would continue Tiller’s work either at his clinic in Nebraska or in Kansas.
Because of this announcement, anti-abortionists aimed their sights on Carhart. Nebraska’s attorney general Jon Bruning spoke about Carhart in an extremely negative manner, saying, “I’m disgusted and I’m saddened, and I hate it that he’s here in Nebraska and I hate it that he’s in America. I mean, this guy is one sick individual.”
Troy Newman, head of the Wichita-based Operation Rescue, announced a “Keep It Closed” campaign to stop Carhart from opening a late-abortion clinic. The campaign is a coalition effort by Operation Rescue, Nebraskans United for Life, together with Nebraska’s, Rescue the Heartland, which has been harassing Carhart and his staff for years.
The three groups, along with the Christian Defense Coalition, filed a formal complaint with Bruning alleging “illegal activities” by Dr. Carhart. The attorney general then passed the complaint to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, with assurances to Operation Rescue that their investigation will be monitored.
The anti-abortion groups called for a demonstration against Carhart’s clinic in Nebraska on August 28 and 29. However, pro-choice groups consisting of NOW, Feminist Majority Foundation, NARAL Pro-Choice American and The World Can’t Wait were there in large numbers to support Carhart. There were two hundred clinic defenders, in comparison to 65 antiabortion protesters.
Carhart told his supporters at a press conference that he would not be intimidated and that he would continue to provide services to his patients. He wore a button which said “Trust Women.”
Terry O’Neil president of NOW said, “I think a lot of people are now beginning to rethink the vicious smear campaigns by elected officials and authorities in Kansas against Dr. Tiller that created an atmosphere in which Scott Roeder (allegedly) felt empowered to commit murder.”
Because of the “Keep it Closed” campaign targeting Carhart, a huge amount of pro-choice activists are now volunteering their help, according to Nebraska’s NOW president, Erin Sullivan. She commented that after people saw her on the national news, people drove to the clinic to offer their assistance.
Dr. Carhart is a committed man. He said, “Dr. Tiller was willing to fight back and so am I.”