Public Records Demanded in Planned Parenthood Document Destruction Case

Operation Rescue, a Wichita, Kan.-based pro-life activist group, filed a round of open records demands with the Kansas Governor's office and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) this week. The group is seeking public records that may reveal who was involved in the shredding of incriminating evidence against Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri in 2005.

Cheryl Sullenger, senior policy adviser with Operation Rescue, said Friday her organization is trying to find out “if there is paper trail left from Sebelius’ administration.” They are looking for log meeting notes, agendas, calendars, phone calls – anything that shows communication between the governor’s office, Planned Parenthood and KDHE regarding the destruction of records.

Sullenger said she did receive a fax yesterday from KDHE saying that they are in the process of reviewing the request and she would receive the documents within seven days from Oct. 26.

The documents are an important part of the criminal case against a Planned Parenthood abortion facility in Kansas. Judge Stephen Tatum on Monday delayed a preliminary hearing for the case because evidence crucial to the prosecution was destroyed.

News broke last week that important documents from Planned Parenthood, known as Termination of Pregnancy (TOP) reports, were destroyed under former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius’ administration.

The documents are crucial to the prosecution of the case. It was also revealed Monday that only the Planned Parenthood TOP reports were destroyed, and that the TOP forms submitted by George Tiller's Women's Health Care Services (WHCS), a now closed late-term abortion clinic in Wichita, were kept by the KDHE until at least 2010.

"Planned Parenthood's TOP forms contained evidence of felonies and were destroyed. The WHCS forms that did not contain such evidence were kept safe. That does not sound like routine document destruction to me. It sounds like a criminal conspiracy to obstruct justice by the Sebelius Administration," said Newman in a press release.

Statute provides that the TOP records must be made available to the attorney general for criminal matters and to the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts for physician disciplinary cases. The statute of limitations on criminal cases in Kansas is five years, but the Planned Parenthood records were destroyed after less than two years of the subpoena.

Operation Rescue contends the original records were destroyed just months after they had been subpoenaed. Sebelius' KDHE aggressively opposed the subpoenas and only produced copies under court order. That investigation was well known to be ongoing when the documents were destroyed in 2005.

Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri faces 107 criminal charges, 23 of which are felonies related to the manufacturing of evidence. Newman said, "Nothing less than millions of dollars in tax funding and the future of Planned Parenthood as an organization are at stake in this case, because if Planned Parenthood is convicted, it will no longer qualify for Title X money."

A status hearing has been set for Nov. 9 to determine if there is enough evidence left for the criminal case to proceed.

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