TOPEKA, Kan. – A Sedgwick County grand jury will be convened Jan. 8 to investigate George Tiller, one of the nation’s few physicians who performs late-term abortions, the county announced Monday.

The process begins with selection of 15 people from a pool of more than 70 summoned for duty. It will take 12 members to approve any recommendation the panel might make. The grand jury can meet for up to 90 days, although that can be extended by the district court.

Last week, the Kansas Supreme Court dismissed a petition from the Wichita physician seeking to stop the grand jury.

The grand jury had been scheduled to convene Oct. 30. But the court put it on hold so that it could review Tiller’s petition challenging the legality of the proceedings.

The grand jury was initiated by a citizen petition drive led by abortion foes. Kansas is one of six states that permits citizens to petition to create a grand jury.

“We feel it is a completely politically motivated and completely unnecessary expenditure of taxpayer dollars,” Tiller’s attorneys, Dan Monnat and Lee Thompson, said in a written statement Monday.

Abortion foes contend Tiller has violated a 1998 state law restricting late-term abortions and that potential violations have been ignored for years. Tiller’s attorneys have said repeatedly that he has done nothing wrong.

This will be the second grand jury abortion foes have created through petition drives in 18 months to investigate Tiller. Last year, a grand jury reviewed the deaths of a Texas woman who had an abortion at Tiller’s clinic but issued no indictments.

In June, Attorney General Paul Morrison filed 19 misdemeanor charges against Tiller, alleging he failed to get a second opinion on some late-term abortions from an independent second physician, as required by law.

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Associated Press Writer