July 25, 2011 — LeRoy Carhart -- an abortion provider who began working in Germantown, Md., after a Nebraska law (LB 1103) banned abortion services after 20 weeks' gestation -- remains "the top focus of antiabortion groups," the Washington Post reports. Carhart is one of the few U.S. providers who publicly acknowledge performing abortions later in pregnancy. Carhart chose Germantown for the clinic because Maryland has some of the least-restrictive abortion laws in the U.S. Germantown also is centrally located on the East Coast and is easily accessible by several airports.
In April, the antiabortion-rights groups Operation Rescue and the Maryland Coalition for Life opened a crisis pregnancy center across the parking lot from Carhart's clinic. Operation Rescue also filed a complaint with the Maryland Board of Directors that says Carhart failed to disclose that he would provide late-in-pregnancy abortions when he applied for a license in the state.
Carhart provides about 60 abortions per month in Germantown; of that total, about six to 10 are provided later in pregnancy. About half of Carhart's patients are residents of Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. Carhart is the only physician working at the clinic, but four other doctors have asked to train with him. He said the clinic's patient load could increase in the fall, when Virginia health officials are expected to issue new draft regulations that would make abortion clinics subject to rules for ambulatory surgical centers, rather than those for physician offices.
Carhart said he also hopes to develop an informal coalition of physicians and clinic administrators in the Washington, D.C., area who would meet regularly to share medical information and tips for handling antiabortion-rights protestors. "Even though you feel like you're alone in the world, it's good to find out that there's ... people like you out there, that are alone with you," Carhart said. He plans to expand services at the Germantown clinic to provide adoption counseling, HIV/AIDS screening, and preventive health services for lesbian, gay and transgendered patients (Sun, Washington Post, 7/25).