Dr. Leroy Carhart cause of death
Dr. Leroy Carhart, a physician and abortion rights activist, passed away on April 14, 2023, at the age of 80 due to liver cancer.
Dr. Carhart dedicated his life to providing reproductive healthcare to women and fought against the restrictive laws that limited access to safe and legal abortions.
Dr. Carhart was a staunch believer in a woman’s right to choose and expanded his clinics beyond Nebraska, including to Germantown, Maryland.
His views on abortion were shaped by the horrors he witnessed when women attempted self-induced abortions and underwent procedures from underground networks.
As a result, Dr. Carhart believed that third-trimester abortions were necessary in cases of malformed fetuses, pregnancies resulting from rape, severe mental distress, or suicide contemplation.
He refused to perform elective abortions after 24 weeks when a fetus is generally considered viable.
Despite his commitment to reproductive rights, Dr. Carhart refused to perform an abortion on a woman who sought one at 28 weeks of pregnancy.
However, he later relented when she told him that she would put the baby up for adoption.
Dr. Carhart was open with the media and offered methodical explanations for the need for some late-term abortions, which earned him harsh criticism from anti-abortion groups.
He experienced violent attacks, including a fire that destroyed his buildings, killing his pets and livestock. He also received anonymous letters calling it retaliation for his practice.
Dr. Carhart became an activist after the 1991 fire and formed a bond with Dr. George Tiller, a fellow abortion provider.
Together, they fought against laws that banned “partial-birth” abortions and challenged a 2003 federal law that outlawed the procedure.
In 2000, the Supreme Court ruled that a Nebraska law that banned “partial-birth” abortions was unconstitutional.
However, in 2007, the Supreme Court ruled that a federal law banning the procedure was not “unconstitutionally vague.”
Dr. Carhart anticipated the new landscape of varying state laws and potential legal questions for doctors and their patients due to the Supreme Court’s June 2022 opinion that overturned Roe v. Wade.
He continued to fight for reproductive rights until his passing.
Dr. Carhart’s legacy will live on in the fight for reproductive justice. He believed that women should have access to safe and legal abortions and dedicated his life to that cause.
His passing is a loss to the reproductive rights community, but his impact will be felt for generations to come.