When Nebraska passed the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” [L.B. 1103] in April 2010, there was no question that it was an historic piece of legislation. The bill prohibits abortions past twenty weeks on the basis that the unborn child can feel pain. Now that the five-month waiting period is over and the bill has gone into effect, there have already been positive, Pro-Life effects. The most noteworthy victory so far is that infamous late-term abortionist LeRoy Carhart has been forced to flee Nebraska.
Carhart has set up three new abortion mills in Maryland, Iowa, and Indiana to compensate for the near 1,000 late-term abortions he can no longer commit in Nebraska. When asked why he had to open the new Carhart Centers for Sexual and Reproductive Health, he replied concerning the new law, “This sort of forced us. We had to do it.” Carhart will not reveal the exact locations of the new centers yet, as he does not want to give protestors a “head start.” When asked where he received the funds for the estimated $1.5 million it will take to open the three clinics, he replied, “private donations.” It is important to note that the National Right to Life affiliates in Maryland, Iowa, and Indiana are all planning strategies to fight Carhart’s move and force him out of these states as well.
Carhart’s exodus shows the strength of L.B. 1103. Not only has he been forced to expand out of state, but the bill has been strong enough not to face any legal challenges to date. Carhart promises that he will challenge the law, but that he must take time to work on an “effective approach.” Carhart does have a history of challenging Pro-Life laws, and in the past he has carried two legal challenges all the way to the Supreme Court. In both Stenberg v. Carhart and Gonzales v. Carhart, Carhart was fighting the partial-birth abortion ban. Carhart has mixed results with the Supreme Court as they ruled in favor of him in Stenberg v. Carhart, and against him in Gonzales v. Carhart.
A court challenge is not necessarily a bad outcome for the Pro-Life community, because it could allow for the law to work its way to the Supreme Court. The morale of the country is more Pro-Life and conservative than in past years, and this is likely one reason pro-abortionists have been so slow to mount a legal challenge that would give the Supreme Court the opportunity to revisit Roe v. Wade. In either case the strategy behind L.B. 1103 is strong, as it is currently protecting some of the unborn in Nebraska. If challenged in the courts, this law will give the Pro-Life community the opportunity to seek constitutional protection for at least some unborn babies.
With the Pro-Life successes from the election, it is very likely that several state legislative sessions will pass similar bills. Nebraska has shown that a solid piece of legislation can have very profound effects, and has provided a wonderful model for other states to follow.