Kansas High Court Allows Planned Parenthood Criminal Case to Proceed

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By Stephanie Samuel, Christian Post Reporter
October 18, 2010|3:09 pm

The Kansas Supreme Court decided to allow a 107-count criminal case to proceed against Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri after the case had been tied up for two years. The organization had been accused of conducting illegal late-term abortions.

“This is a huge victory for the cause of life,” said Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, in a statement. The pro-life group lobbied for the criminal case to move forward despite a subpoena tie up and a letter from the state’s attorney office pardoning the Planned Parenthood group involved.

“We asked people to call the Supreme Court,” reported Cheryl Sullenger, Operation Rescue’s senior policy advisor. Newman and his group circulated petitions and purchased radio spots, raising the public consciousness on the issue.

Last Friday, the court finally cleared the case to be tried in the District Court by the Johnson County State’s Attorney office.

Criminal charges were initially filed in 2007 by then-District Attorney Phill Kline after having investigated the late abortionist George Tiller and Planned Parenthood for performing a number of late-term abortions. The charges included 23 felony counts including providing falsified documents to the courts, failing to keep proper documents attesting to the dates abortions were performed, and illegally performing late-term abortions without two doctors' approvals.

The case, however, has had a number of setbacks. Subpoena problems halted the case’s progress in the courts. Johnson County District Judge Stephen Tatum threw out a number of subpoena requests for documents such as abortion requests from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, and for witnesses such as Shawnee County District Judge Richard Anderson, who oversaw an inquisition of Planned Parenthood and Tiller.

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Friday’s ruling now allows for the subpoena for Judge Anderson’s testimony to stand. However, the court ruled that state documents could not be subpoenaed without the approval of the state attorney general and the board overseeing medical professionals.

Also, Kline’s successor, Paul Morrison, issued the clinic a letter absolving it of wrongdoing four months after the charges were filed. Anderson reviewed the case and said Morrison should not have sent the letter. Morrison later resigned amid allegations of an extramarital affair with a female subordinate.

“This case has been marred by continued delay and political corruption that has caused public confidence in the system to be diminished. In the interest of justice and closure for the people of Kansas, this case must go to trial,” said Newman.

According to Sullenger, Operation Rescue plans to continue following the case to ensure it goes to trial.

“Now that the case can move forward, the next hurdle is the district attorney,” she said. The public policy expert called on Johnson County State Attorney Steve Howe to “quit delaying.”

The district state attorney office did not immediately return The Christian Post’s calls regarding the case. However, Howe told the Kansas City Star it will take a while.

“Our office is currently reviewing the decision, and we’ll then decide what our next course of action will be,” he said.

 

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