A preliminary hearing over a criminal case against a Planned Parenthood abortion facility in Kansas was postponed on Monday. Judge Stephen Tatum delayed the hearing because evidence crucial to the prosecution was destroyed, and he set a status conference for Nov. 9.
Last week, news broke that under former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ administration, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment destroyed original 2003 abortion reporting forms sometime in 2005.
Then-Attorney General Phill Kline subpoenaed the documents in 2004 during his investigations of the non-reporting of child sex abuse and illegal late-term abortions. The facility, located in Overland Park, a Kansas City suburb, is facing 107 charges, including 23 felony counts of falsifying documents.
"It is unconscionable that Sebelius' KDHE destroyed those documents knowing they had been subpoenaed for a criminal investigation," said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman in a statement Monday. "That willful destruction of evidence was a blatant act to protect Planned Parenthood from being held accountable to the law. Those who ordered that evidence be destroyed should be held accountable for obstruction of justice in a court of law."
This case could be potentially groundbreaking in conservative groups’ fight against Planned Parenthood. Kansans for Life Executive Director Mary Kay Culp told The Christian Post, “We keep hearing over and over that if Planned Parenthood is found guilty of a criminal felony they can lose all their federal funding. This is the first criminal case to go to trial against Planned Parenthood.”
But it has been a long time coming, with the case sitting in limbo for over seven years. Starting in 2003, Kline launched an investigation over abortion abuses after he subpoenaed late-term abortion files from Planned Parenthood and the late abortionist George Tiller’s facilities.
But because both organizations stalled in releasing the records, the Kansas State Supreme Court ruled that the abortion report files could be obtained, and the abortion providers finally complied with the subpoena by sending the files to Judge Richard Anderson.
As the reports were being reviewed by Anderson’s office, they found Planned Parenthood’s patient files were missing from the state reports. So Planned Parenthood was once again asked to submit report copies. After they were sent over, Anderson had the reports examined by an independent forgery expert, confirming the strong probability that Planned Parenthood had committed felony "false-writings" to cover up the misdemeanor of failing to make and keep the proper state reports.
Before the evidence could be analyzed completely, Kline was defeated by Paul Morrison as Attorney General, and appointed as District Attorney of the Kansas county where Planned Parenthood operates.
Kline tried to prosecute the “false writings” felony charges for forging documents when he became DA. But, at that time, the KDHE under Gov. Sebelius, opposed bringing the original reports to court, saying that a certain law (KSA 65-445) only permitted them to be shared with the AG. The AG was then Steve Six, who would not accommodate the Kline prosecution.
Cheryl Sullenger, senior policy adviser for Operation Rescue, told The Christian Post there is evidence of illegal late-term abortions because doctors didn’t provide a reason or basis for the abortion on the forms. She also commented on how critical this case is because “in order for Planned Parenthood to get $350 million of its Title X money, their organization has to certify they follow state and federal laws.
“There is a lot at stake here.”