FIRST-PERSON: LeRoy Carhart's warped world
ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)--"God gave that fetus a 'guardian ad litem' when he chose the mother that fetus is born with," LeRoy Carhart said recently. "That mother, I feel, has been charged by God to make the right choices for that child during its unborn and early years."
Taken at face value, Carhart's words sound noble and inspiring. However, when you place them in context, they take on of a very different tone.
Carhart, you see, is a Nebraska physician who holds the distinction of being one of the few doctors in the United States to specialize in late-term, even third-term, abortions. He has also led the fight to keep the grisly procedure known as partial-birth abortion legal.
Carhart's comments came during a news conference organized by the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice. The RCRC website maintains the coalition is "pro-faith -- pro-family -- pro-choice."
During the news conference, which took place just prior to a memorial service for recently murdered abortionist George Tiller, Carhart said that the matter of a woman choosing abortion is "a religious freedom issue."
In my mind, the RCRC and Carhart are confused or deluded. Maybe both. How can you maintain you are pro-family in one breath and in the next accept the killing of preborn children? How someone can maintain abortion is an issue of "religious freedom" is beyond my understanding.
Carhart also said that the murder of Tiller was the "equivalent of Martin Luther King being assassinated ... the equivalent of Pearl Harbor, the sinking of the Lusitania and any other major historic event where we've tolerated the intolerable for too long."
Carhart's comparisons are, at best, bizarre. First of all, no sane, responsible person tolerated the killing of King, the bombing of Pearl Harbor or the sinking of the Lusitania. All of those actions were condemned and, in due time, justice was achieved.
In the same way, prominent pro-life voices have condemned the murder of Tiller. A man has been charged with the crime and, in due time, justice will be served.
All of Carhart's statements must be evaluated in the context of who he is; not only does he perform late-term abortions, but he is an abortion activist of the first order. Carhart has fought hard to be able to perform the most heinous of procedures -- partial birth abortion.
In the late 1990s Carhart filed suit against then-Nebraska Attorney General Donald Stenberg because a Nebraska law banned a form of abortion, dilation and extraction (D&X). The procedure involves partially removing an unborn baby from the uterus before terminating it -- hence the reason it is known as partial-birth abortion.
The gruesome reality in partial-birth abortion is that a baby's body is outside the mother's womb while his or her head remains inside. A pair of blunt scissors is forced into the base of the child's skull. A suction catheter is inserted into the hole created by the scissors and the baby's brain is suctioned out, causing the skull to collapse. With the catheter still in place, the now-dead baby is removed.
In the 2000 Stenberg v. Carhart decision, the United States Supreme Court struck down the Nebraska law in a 5-4 decision because the law did not allow for the use of the procedure even when the mother's health would be put at greater risk by another abortion procedure -- a loophole that would have made the law meaningless because "health," by Supreme Court edict, includes "emotional health."
Carhart later filed suit against U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales seeking to strike down the 2003 Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, a federal law that is similar to the state law struck down in Stenberg. While the court did not officially reverse Stenberg, in 2007 it upheld the federal ban as not imposing an undue burden on women.
While I find Carhart's abortion practice and defense of partial-birth abortion egregious, his sanctimonious statement at the recent RCRC news conference using the term "guardian at litem" is simply deplorable.
A "guardian ad litem" is a legal term. It is used to refer to a party appointed by a court to act in a lawsuit on behalf of another party -- particularly a minor child or incapacitated adult -- who is incapable of representing him or herself. The "guardian ad litem" is charged to represent the best interest of his or her client.
In Carhart's warped world, a mother is acting in an unborn child's best interest by killing it and not allowing it any chance at life. He further seeks to sanction abortion as a "right choice" by saying God has given her that right.
Statistics have proven again and again that the overwhelming numbers of abortions, well over 85-90 percent, are performed as a matter of convenience. The lives of unborn children are terminated because men and women don't believe they can afford them, don't feel the time is right, believe they have too many children, etc.
In regard to late-term abortion, the type Carhart specializes in, the reasons for terminating the lives of unborn children remain the same as previously mentioned. Their lives are snuffed out in the womb mostly as a matter of convenience. Tiller's own website even claimed it specialized in aborting children with "Trisomy 21" -- Down syndrome.
Either Carhart does not understand the charge given a "guardian ad litem" or he has become so deluded that he really believes some children are better off dead than alive. Perhaps that is just what he chooses to believe in order to help him sleep at night. In either case, Carhart is one disturbed human being.
Kelly Boggs is a weekly columnist for Baptist Press and editor of the Baptist Message (www.baptistmessage.com), newsjournal of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.