Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline on Thursday defended his secret inquiry into the records of late-term abortion patients, saying it is necessary to prosecute suspected child abusers.
Anti-abortion groups across the state chimed in with emotional support for Kline that went as far as accusing two clinics — which on Tuesday had asked the Kansas Supreme Court to intercede – of aiding child molesters.
Both sides are battling over individuals’ privacy rights and the limitations on government power. Each claim to be protecting the rights of the individuals.
And because most of the evidence has been sealed in Shawnee County District Court, few details are being discussed outside the pleadings to the state’s high court.
Information in the court records indicates that the abortion providers fighting Kline and Judge Richard Anderson are Wichita’s Women’s Health Care Services and Overland Park’s Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood of Kansas & Mid-Missouri.
Their battle involves Kline’s attempt to subpoena the unedited records of 90 women and girls who sought abortions at least 22 weeks into their pregnancies.
During a news conference Thursday, Kline would not discuss his specific reasons for wanting the complete records.
In October, Anderson ordered the medical records be turned over to Kline, prompting this week’s appeal by the clinics to the state’s highest court.
Kline addressed one of the two reasons that have been cited in court records for his investigation — the sexual activity of girls.
“Rape is a serious crime, and when a 10-, 11-, or 12-year-old is pregnant, they have been raped under Kansas law,” Kline said Thursday. In Kansas, no one under the age of 16 can legally consent to sex.
“There are two things child predators want, access to children and secrecy, and as attorney general I am bound and determined to not give them either.”
Kline’s comments unleashed a flurry of responses from anti-abortion groups and the state’s two main abortion providers.
“No agency offering abortion services or the judges that are complicit in the stonewalling of justice should be allowed to be accessories to the exploitation of women and children,” read a statement from Concerned Women for America of Kansas, a group based in Johnson County.
Both George Tiller, the doctor who owns the Wichita clinic, and Planned Parenthood of Kansas & Mid-Missouri released responses that said they were complying with laws that require reporting of child sexual abuse.
“Dr. Tiller has always consistently, carefully and appropriately followed the law in all respects,” read a statement released on Tiller’s behalf by Wichita lawyers Lee Thompson and Dan Monnat.
The lawyers pointed out that earlier this week Tiller complied with a Texas request for records, which they called “a legitimate inquiry…to more fully investigate a specific event.”
The same lawyers, in their filing to the state Supreme Court, characterized Kline’s investigation as a “fishing expedition” into the private lives of the clinic’s patients.
In a statement, Planned Parenthood said Kline, at his news conference, “sought, falsely, to portray abortion providers as somehow impeding legitimate investigations of statutory rape….Planned Parenthood and Comprehensive Health provide high quality reproductive health care, protect medical privacy and fully comply with the law.”
Court records also claim that Kline’s subpoena isn’t limited by age. Kline’s office has argued to Anderson, the pleadings say, that it also wants to inspect the legality of all late-term abortions performed in Kansas.
The clinics are asking the high court to limit the scope of Kline’s inquiry and not release complete medical records.
Reach Ron Sylvester at 268-6514 or [email protected].
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By RON SYLVESTER
The Wichita Eagle