A Nebraska doctor’s decision to open an abortion clinic in Council Bluffs is drawing the attention of Iowa policymakers, as well as groups that lobby legislators.

Iowa Family Policy Center president Chuck Hurley says passage of a new state law restricting so-called late term abortions is a priority for his organization. “The late-term abortionist LeRoy Carhart from Nebraska is planning to come into Iowa and do his wicked work,” Hurley says. “We are already working with several legislators and groups to try to stop that from happening.” 

Carhart announced recently he’d open a clinic in Council Bluffs and another in Maryland to provide late term abortion services. Nebraska has a new law which bans late term abortions. Iowa law allows abortions after the second trimester to preserve the life or health of the pregnant woman.

Jenifer Bowen, executive director of Iowa Right to Life, says her group hoped to tighten state law on late term abortions even before the Nebraska doctor announced his intention to open a clinic in western Iowa.

“This sort of became what we see as a ‘crisis moment,'” Bowen says. “We really do not want to see Iowa as a ‘safe haven’ state for late term abortionists.”

Bowen has begun talking with legislators about perhaps removing the word “health” from Iowa law, so abortions after the second trimester would only be allowed if the mother’s life is endangered by the pregnancy. “We obviously don’t want to lose Iowa women, but if her health is at risk — if she’s depressed or she doesn’t want to carry through — that is where (Carhart) sees his moment of opportunity,” Bowen says.

House Speaker-elect Kraig Paulsen said last week that legislators are discussing “several” different ways to bar the Nebraska doctor from performing late-term abortions in Iowa.

A rumor that Dr. Carhart intented to buy a parcel of land in Council Bluffs prompted 300 people  to attend this past Monday’s Council Bluffs City Council meeting. The mayor of Council Bluffs said no one had come forward to ask for city approval for such a facility. The council voted to allow the sale of the tract, with the stipulation that an abortion clinic could not to be located on the site.