Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison cleared Overland Park’s Planned Parenthood of criminal wrongdoing Tuesday, but predecessor Phill Kline’s scrutiny of the clinic may not be over.
Yet to come is Morrison’s decision on whether to file charges against Wichita abortion provider George Tiller, who also was investigated by Kline, formerly the attorney general and now Johnson County district attorney.
An announcement regarding Tiller is expected by the end of the week.
As attorney general, Kline began an investigation of the two clinics in 2004. He sought their medical records, saying he wanted to determine whether the clinics had performed abortions on underage girls and failed to report suspicions of child rape to police.
He also alleged that Tiller’s clinic, which performs late-term abortions, used bogus mental health diagnoses to justify otherwise illegal late-term abortions.
In a letter released by Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, Morrison told the clinic’s attorney that his investigation is over and that he will return the medical records subpoenaed from the clinic.
“We have interviewed witnesses, and we have analyzed all of the evidence of the applicable Kansas criminal laws,” Morrison wrote.”… we will not be filing any charges against your client.”
Peter Brownlie, president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, said he was pleased.
“From the beginning, we’ve also said that Mr. Kline’s investigation of Planned Parenthood was nothing more and nothing less than a fishing expedition, conducted for a political agenda,” Brownlie said.
Mary Kay Culp, director of Kansas for Life, accused Morrison of shielding abortion clinics for political reasons.
“Another satisfied customer,” she said.
The announcement might signify a “pre-emptive strike” by Morrison to interfere with Kline’s own investigation of Planned Parenthood, she said.
Kline had sought 90 medical records of women who received abortions, including 29 from Planned Parenthood. After a lengthy legal battle, the files were handed over and all identifying information was ordered redacted.
Kline filed 30 charges against Tiller last year shortly before leaving office, but a Sedgwick County judge dismissed them for jurisdictional reasons. Kline did not charge Planned Parenthood.
In his letter to Planned Parenthood attorney Pedro Irigonegaray, Morrison said that he would ask the court to return the original medical files that were subpoenaed by Kline, and that his office would return the redacted medical records.
But Morrison’s letter said that Kline still has a copy. On Jan. 5, just before leaving state office, Kline referred the records to the Johnson County district attorney’s office, Morrison’s letter said.
Reached by phone during a trip to Washington, Kline wouldn’t say whether he is investigating Planned Parenthood in Johnson County or whether he still possesses medical records or other evidence from Planned Parenthood.
“I don’t comment on the existence or non-existence of a criminal investigation,” he said.
Kline also said he was not surprised by Morrison’s decision.
“Paul’s actions were predicted months ago and fully anticipated,” he said. “For years as district attorney, he demonstrated an unwillingness to look at this kind of evidence.”
He would not elaborate.
Morrison spokeswoman Ashley Anstaett could not say whether Morrison would ask Kline to return the files.
Brownlie said he and his attorneys believe Kline has no right to the records. The clinic has pursued “all legal remedies” to get them back, he said, but so far has been unsuccessful. Knowing that Kline has the records is “a very big concern,” he said.
Tiller’s attorney, Dan Monnat, said the letter to Planned Parenthood shows “Morrison is conducting an objective, separate and professional investigation” of the two clinics, rather than a single investigation.
Monnat said Tiller follows all laws regarding late-term abortions.
“Our position is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow,” he said. “Our client is innocent.”
All content © 2007 THE WICHITA EAGLE and may not be republished without permission.
By DIANE CARROLL AND DAVID KLEPPER
Kansas City Star