DES MOINES – The Iowa Senate on Monday narrowly approved a measure designed to prevent a doctor who specializes in late-term abortions from opening a planned clinic on the western border of the state.
Dr. Leroy Carhart had been providing late-term abortions in Nebraska. But a measure signed into law in that state last year prohibits abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. A similar measure has been enacted in Kansas.
In response, Carhart, one of only handful of doctors in the country who perform abortions late in the second-trimester of pregnancy, announced plans to open a clinic just across the border from Nebraska in Council Bluffs, Iowa.
But the measure passed by the Democratic-led Iowa Senate on Monday in a 26-23 vote would require Carhart and others to apply to the state for a "certificate of need" or permit for a "free-standing" abortion clinic.
It would also require the clinic be located near a hospital with a neonatal unit for premature babies.
There is no such hospital in Council Bluffs.
Critics of the plan say Carhart would be able to open a clinic in four other Iowa cities which do have specialized hospital facilities for premature babies.
Governor Branstad, a Republican, has said he favors the House Republicans' approach which would ban all abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy unless the mother's life is threatened by her pregnancy.
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