Two Kansas abortion clinics continue to oppose a court order to hand over medical records of about 90 women and girls who possibly had late-term abortions or were raped in 2003.
Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline said he is looking for evidence of child rape and abortions occurring after the 22nd week of pregnancy.
In spring 2003, Shawnee County Judge Richard D. Anderson sent a subpoena to every abortion clinic and hospital in the state. In a grand-jury investigation, Anderson ruled that there was probable cause that some abortion providers had violated state laws. In Kansas, sexual intercourse with someone younger than 15 is considered rape, while abortions performed after 22 weeks are legal only if the unborn child is not viable or if the pregnancy presents a significant health risk to the mother.
Most hospitals and abortion clinics complied with the request. Only Women's Health Care Services of Wichita, operated by well-known abortionist George Tiller, and a Planned Parenthood clinic in Overland Park refused to comply with the request for medical data.
Kline accused the clinics of trying to operate outside the law. "In virtually all crimeswhether it be homicide, rape, or batteryhospitals and clinics respond to requests. The only thing different about this case is that we have abortion clinics," Kline said.
Bill Hoch, a spokesman for the Wichita clinic, told CT that his client opposes Kline's request on privacy grounds. He noted that the brief that Women's Health Care Services filed on March 16 with the state Supreme Court "underscores our client's unyielding commitment to ensuring that patients need never fear public exposure of the confidential information they share with their doctor."
Kline told CT a judicial gag rule prevents him from revealing which data he is seeking, though he noted he would never disclose a patient's name. The two abortion clinics have said in legal documents that Kline asked for the names, phone numbers, and addresses of abortion patients.
Kline said the clinic provides the data of abortion patients to national abortion-rights organizations. Hoch declined comment.
Last year, then U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft subpoenaed abortion records from some hospitals and abortion clinics to obtain information about partial-birth abortions. While some institutions complied, others refused and went to court. Federal courts later ruled that the subpoenas were violations of privacy.
According to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment, 78 girls 14 years old and younger had abortions in 2003. In the same year, 491 women aborted their unborn children during or after the pregnancy's 22nd week. Of those, 318 unborn babies could have lived outside their mother's womb.
Kline told CT the Kansas Supreme Court could rule at any moment in the case.
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News elsewhere includes:
A Political Tornado in Kansas | Phill Kline, the state's attorney general, often preaches from pulpits as he pushes a conservative agenda aimed at curbing abortions and gay rights. (Los Angeles Times, April 11, 2005)
Kline sees records fight as matter of principle | Phill Kline, Republican attorney general of Kansas, is determined not to be defensive. Making headlines with his subpoena of abortion records and his closed-door discussions of evolution with State Board of Education members, the former scholarship wrestler comes across as well-satisfied with what he has wrought. (Lawrence Journal World, Kan., March 22, 2005)
Planned Parenthood leader blasts Kline's abortion records probe | Peter Brownlie, president and chief executive of the Overland Park clinic which performs abortions, said Kline's investigation, which has gained national attention, was producing fear and outrage among women. (Lawrence Journal World, Kan., March 16, 2005)
Kansas abortion clinics fight data request | Criminal inquiries trump issues of privacy, state says. (Washington Post, March 15, 2005)
Kan. governor vetoes abortion clinic rules | Abortion opponents are likely to attempt a veto override after the Legislature returns April 27 from its spring break (Associated Press, April, 18, 2005)
More on abortion is available on our Life Ethics page.
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