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Documents show focus of Atty. Gen. Kline's inquiry into Kansas' Abortion Clinic Practices
Kansas City Star ^ | Fri, Mar. 04, 2005 | DAVID KLEPPER

Posted on 03/04/2005 7:55:04 AM PST by rface

Kansas Attorney General, Phil Kline, is seeking the medical records of 90 women and girls who received late-term abortions at two Kansas clinics in 2003. Kline said he is looking for evidence of child rape and instances in which the clinics may have broken the laws restricting late-term abortions.

TOPEKA, Kansas — Attorney General Phill Kline says he needs medical records from abortion clinics for an investigation into child predators and illegal late-term abortions.

But legal documents that Kline filed Thursday with the Kansas Supreme Court make little mention of child predators, and instead indicate that the legal battle centers on the clinics themselves and whether doctors are following the law in performing late-term abortions.

Kline, an abortion rights opponent, is seeking the medical records of 90 women and girls who received late-term abortions at two Kansas clinics in 2003. Kline said he is looking for evidence of child rape and instances in which the clinics may have broken the laws restricting late-term abortions.

The clinics have gone unnamed. Records of the criminal inquisition released by Kline's office refer to the two clinics as “Women's” and “Comprehensive.” The records confirm that one of the clinics is in Overland Park.

The secret judicial inquiry began last fall, coming to light last week when the clinics filed a brief asking the Supreme Court to intercede. The clinics have asked the court to overrule a Shawnee County district judge, who ordered the clinics to comply with Kline's subpoenas.

On Thursday, Kline filed his response. It included dozens of pages of previously unreleased court transcripts. The clinics may now submit a reply before the court takes action. The court could decide the conflict based on the written documents, send the case to a lower court, hold hearings or dismiss the case without ruling.

Democratic lawmakers have questioned Kline's motives, while lawmakers who oppose abortion have defended him.

Kline on Thursday accused the clinics of generating hysteria to thwart his investigation. Medical records are routinely used in criminal investigations, Kline said, and abortion clinics should be no different. He said the records would go to Shawnee County District Judge Richard Anderson, who would decide whether some information would be kept private.

“The issue in this case is whether abortion clinics are above the law,” Kline said Thursday, shortly before filing the brief with the Supreme Court.

The clinics have called Kline's request for records a “fishing expedition” that violates privacy rights and patient-doctor privilege.

A gag order prevents Kline or the clinics from discussing many of the details of the case. But records of court proceedings indicate that Kline's office and Anderson are considering whether a medical expert could review the records to determine “whether the fetus was viable or not, whether there is objective medical evidence to support the procedure.”

Kansas law prohibits abortions after 22 weeks of pregnancy unless the continuation of pregnancy could severely injure the woman. Kline has gone on record opposing an earlier court decision that injury to a woman's mental health was sufficient reason to allow a late-term abortion. In the court records, the judge discussed the issue of “interpretation of whether a mental health exception is reasonable basis for protecting a woman's health.”

Kline said his investigation is also meant to find child predators who may have raped underage girls. State law requires health-care providers to report suspected child abuse. According to state records, 78 girls younger than 15 received abortions in 2003. That's below the age of consent in Kansas; legally, those girls are considered to have been raped.

In the court record submitted by Kline, the clinics agreed to hand over information if Kline had reasonable proof that the clinics' doctors falsified records, urged their patients to undergo abortions or ignored medical standards in allowing the abortion to continue.

Anderson said that it was impossible to make that determination without reviewing the medical records.

“Without access to the medical records, how is the attorney general going to make a reasonably informed judgment as to whether the records do or do not contain evidence of a crime?” Anderson said, according to the court records.

In the statement released Thursday, the clinics repeated their insistence that they follow all laws relating to medical care and abortions.

“Our clients have followed the law and will continue to do so,” lawyer Lee Thompson wrote.

Kline also said the clinics never offered to provide the records with personal information redacted, even though lawyers for the clinics make that claim in the brief they filed with the court.

Thompson said the clinics repeatedly offered to provide the records if they could withhold identifying information.

TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events; US: Kansas
KEYWORDS: abortion; philkline
Kline was on O'Reily TV program last night (or Wed. night). It looks like he has a good case - even Judge Nepolitano (sp?) says so - which is something unexpected
1 posted on 03/04/2005 7:55:04 AM PST by rface
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To: rface
even Judge Nepolitano (sp?) says so - which is something unexpected

Napolitano is a vigorous defender of personal rights, but not a loon. Kline appears to have followed all of the right procedures in seeking these records. It must be driving Governor Sebelious off the rails.

2 posted on 03/04/2005 8:18:57 AM PST by Bahbah
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To: Bahbah

The most interesting part of the interview with Napolitano came when he mentioned that the defense attorney for the clinics said there was evidence of criminal activity.

3 posted on 03/04/2005 8:27:25 AM PST by AZFolks
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