A grand jury was finalized on Monday to investigate whether the Kansas chapter of Planned Parenthood violated state abortion laws by performing illegal late-term abortions.
Eight women and nine men – two of them, alternates – were selected by a Johnston County judge to look into the charges of criminal activity laid out in a citizens' petition that was signed by more than 6,400 county voters.
A coalition of pro-life groups, including Wichita-based Operation Rescue, Concerned Women for America and Women Influencing the Nation, had submitted the petition late October. The petition alleges the clinic performs illegal late-term abortions and provides false information to the state. The president of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri has denied any wrongdoing.
The jurors were selected by District Court Judge Kevin Moriarty who randomly pulled the names. He then questioned the jurors about whether they could set aside their personal views on abortion and make an impartial decision based on the facts.
"The mere fact that you have a strong conviction one way or the other does not disqualify you as a juror. But you must be able to sit as fair and impartial triers of the facts," said Moriarty, reported the local Star.
The jurors are expected to meet periodically for three months in a closed investigation and deliberation, although that period can be extended by the judge.
Other allegations against the clinic include failure to report suspected child abuse, participating in illegal trafficking of fetal tissue, failure to comply with parental notice requirements and failure to enforce the 24-hour waiting period.
If the grand jury hands down an indictment, the case would proceed in District Court.
Another grand jury was also recently confirmed to be convened Jan. 8 in Sedgwick County to investigate the infamous late-term abortion practitioner, George Tiller.