Kansas Abortion Opponents Petition For Grand Jury Investigation Of Abortion Provider Tiller
Abortion Opponents Petition
The antiabortion group Kansans for Lifeon Wednesday delivered a petition asking for a Sedgwick County, Kan.,grand jury to investigate abortion provider George Tiller, who has beencharged with 19 misdemeanors for allegedly violating a state law thatrequires an independent, consulting physician to approve some late-termabortions, the AP/Wichita Eaglereports. In the petition, which contains 7,857 signatures, the groupasks the Sedgwick County District Court to convene a grand jury andappoint an independent prosecutor to investigate Tiller (Hegeman, AP/Wichita Eagle, 9/6).
State Attorney General Paul Morrison (D) in June filed charges alleging that Tiller, who owns Women's Health Care Servicesin Wichita, Kan., had financial ties to physician Ann Kristin Neuhaus,from whom he received a second opinion before performing 19 late-termabortions in 2003.
A 1998 Kansas law says that before anabortion of a fetus of 21 weeks' gestation or more, two physicians mustdetermine if continuation of a pregnancy will lead to death or"substantial and irreversible" harm to a "major bodily function."Consulting physicians cannot have legal or financial ties to abortionproviders. Tiller's attorneys have entered a not guilty plea to thealleged misdemeanors and filed a motion to dismiss the charges. Ifconvicted, Tiller could face up to one year in jail and a $2,500 finefor each of the 19 misdemeanor charges (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 8/7).
Grand Jury Petition
According to the AP/Eagle,petitioners want the grand jury to examine late-term abortions thatTiller performed during the past five years and the reasons cited forthe abortions. The group said it does not want the Sedgwick County Office of the District Attorneyor Morrison's office associated with the investigation because neithercould conduct an unbiased investigation. According to the group,Morrison was not thorough enough in his examination of Tiller's case.
"Wewaited nine years for those in law enforcement to do their jobs," DavidGittrich, state development director for Kansans for Life, said.Tiller's attorneys did not have immediate comment on the petition,according to a receptionist at the law office of Tiller attorney LeeThompson. "I can assure you the attorney general will enforce the lawregardless of his personal view," Ashley Anstaett, spokesperson forMorrison, said, adding, "He does not and will not let politicsinfluence this or any other case." Georgia Cole, spokesperson forSedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston (D), said, "We areconfident they will do as the law allows."
According to the AP/Eagle,the number of signatures submitted by Kansans for Life is nearly threetimes the number needed to convene a grand jury (Hegeman, AP/Wichita Eagle, 9/6).
Morrison Allowed To Intervene in Planned Parenthood, Kline Case
In related news, the Kansas Supreme Court on Wednesday ruled that Morrison could intervene in the legal dispute between Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri's Overland Park clinic Comprehensive Health and former state Attorney General Phill Kline (R), the Kansas City Star reports (Klepper, Kansas City Star, 9/5).
Klinein 2004 subpoenaed the records of 90 women and girls who in 2003underwent late-term abortions at Comprehensive Health or Women's HealthCare Services in Wichita, which is owned by Tiller, saying there isprobable cause that each record contains evidence of a felony. Thestate Supreme Court in February 2006 ruled that Kline could seek accessto the records but that he must return to Shawnee County, Kan.,District Court Judge Richard Anderson and present his reasons forseeking the subpoenas. Anderson turned over the records to Kline'soffice in November 2006 after removing information that would identifyindividuals.
Morrison -- who defeated Kline in the November2006 election -- in May in a letter to PPKM attorney Pedro Irigonegaraywrote that he has ended the investigation of Comprehensive Health.Morrison added that the attorney general's office "found no evidence ofany criminal wrongdoing" by the clinic. Morrison in the letter alsosaid that Kline forwarded copies of the medical records from PPKMpatients to the Johnson County, Kan., district attorney's office onJan. 5 -- three days before he left the state attorney general'soffice. Kline, who replaced Morrison as Johnson County districtattorney, retains copies of the records, according to Morrison's letter(Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 7/23). PPKM is seeking the return of the records used by Kline in the investigation.
According to the Star,Morrison also is suing Anderson in a separate lawsuit. Records in thatcase also are sealed. Kline said that if Morrison is attempting toforce Anderson to return the records, it would be "unprecedented,bizarre and contrary to the responsibilities of a prosecutor." Anstaettdeclined to comment on the details of either lawsuit. She said thatbecause of the court seal, Morrison's office could not review thePlanned Parenthood lawsuit without getting permission to intervene (Kansas City Star, 9/5).
Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser DailyWomen's Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for emaildelivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.