The following is a statement from former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline on the decision last week by prosecutors to dismiss the charges filed against the Planned Parenthood abortion business:
Planned Parenthood was investigated for illegal late-term abortion and failure to report child rape as required by law. Evidence obtained revealed that during a time the abortion provider performed hundreds of abortions on children 13 years of age and younger Planned Parenthood only reported one case of child molestation. The evidence included witness statements and reports from former Planned Parenthood employees.
This portion of the case died due to obstruction by the Administration of former Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius and former Attorney General Morrison who was recruited by Ms. Sebelius to run for Attorney General. Ms. Sebelius is a political beneficiary of Planned Parenthood.
Other evidence indicated that Planned Parenthood lied about the gestational age of the fetus in order to justify an abortion. Kansas law allowed abortions on a non-viable fetus for any reason. State law, however, severely restricted late-term abortions on viable fetuses.
The case filed against Planned Parenthood alleged that Planned Parenthood falsely reported the gestational age of the fetus in order to claim the fetus was not viable. The evidence demonstrating this conduct was present in every abortion record obtained. These allegations were supported by the expert report of Dr. T. Murphy Goodwin, one of our nation’s premiere neonatologists.
The District Attorney announced today that he was dismissing these charges because it was his opinion that the gestational age stated by Planned Parenthood arguably indicated the fetus was viable. His statement misses the point and indicated he doesn’t understand the case.
First, the District Attorney improperly defines “viability” but more importantly he completely ignores the allegation that Planned Parenthood lied about the gestational age of the fetus.
Dr. Goodwin determined the gram weight of the aborted fetus by analyzing the pathology report. The gram weight indicated the fetus was much later in gestation than Planned Parenthood claimed and it was Dr. Goodwin’s conclusion that every single abortion performed in the 29 records obtained was on a viable fetus and, therefore, was illegal.
This allegation was also supported by other witnesses and a review of the files from Dr. Tiller’s clinic in Wichita. Doctors who performed abortions for Planned Parenthood would also perform abortions at Dr. Tiller’s clinics. Eyewitnesses and records revealed that when those doctors were at Dr. Tiller’s clinic they engaged in the same conduct – misrepresenting the gestational age of the fetus in order to justify illegal late-term abortions.
It is not surprising the District Attorney does not understand the charges as, to my knowledge, his office did not contact any of these witnesses, obtain any of the records relating to Dr. Tiller’s clinic, never acted to preserve the testimony of Dr. Goodwin nor tried to contact anyone involved in the initial investigation.
The news release also claims that it was necessary to dismiss some of the older charges because the statute of limitations prohibited the filing of those charges. This statement ignores the claim that Planned Parenthood misrepresented the gestational age of the fetus thus tolling the statute of limitations.
In November of last year the District Attorney announced that he was dismissing the 23 felony charges against Planned Parenthood because documents key to that prosecution were destroyed by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment in 2005, at a time the agency was managed by former Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius.
Mr. Howe also announced that Sebelius appointee, former Attorney General Stephen Six, destroyed other key evidence in May of 2009 at a time Mr. Six knew the records were part of a criminal prosecution against Planned Parenthood. This obstruction by the Sebelius Administration and her appointees was harmful to the case but not fatal. The necessary records to proceed were in the possession of Shawnee County District Court Judge Richard Anderson who recently reported that Mr. Howe’s office never made any written request for the records. The District Attorney’s office also had a set of copies.
The District Attorney also did not follow up on evidence that demonstrated that Planned Parenthood was illegally referring patients to Dr. Tiller to perform abortions Planned Parenthood knew to be illegal. Planned Parenthood records demonstrated that some of their patients, according to Planned Parenthood, were carrying a healthy viable late-term fetus. Planned Parenthood also reported the mothers were physically and mentally healthy.
Under Kansas law an abortion of a healthy viable fetus is illegal unless the birth of the child would cause the mother “severe and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.” Despite the fact that Planned Parenthood concluded the mother was healthy and the fetus was viable, Planned Parenthood, nevertheless, referred the patients to Dr. Tiller who performed illegal abortions on these patients. This evidence was not pursued by the District Attorney.
The investigation included employee and patient informants who, to my knowledge, were never contacted by the District Attorney’s office.
This evidence was reviewed by independent District Judges who found probable cause to believe Planned Parenthood committed crimes. In fact, in every single instance the evidence was reviewed, probable cause was found. Yet now, none of these charges will ever reach open court.
The law allows a prosecutor the discretion to abandon prosecutions against powerful defendants – even when judges have found probable cause for the case to move to trial. This fact, however, does not make this decision correct but only demonstrates the District Attorney acted out of political fear rather than a sound understanding of the law, the facts or the case.
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Despite this protracted whitewash, the fact remains that Planned Parenthood is now on the defensive around the nation due to their failure to report child sexual molestation, alleged financial fraud and failure to comply with reasonable abortion restrictions – and these facts were first investigated and revealed in Kansas. The truth in Kansas is clear for those who want to see it – the destruction of documents, deceptive legal opinions and acts of political cowardice cannot erase that truth.
The truth also remains that no one has acted to ensure that the hundreds of child victims of sexual molestation taken to Kansas abortion clinics are safe. This remains the most shocking and sorrowful fact emerging from this story of corruption and cover-up.
Former Attorney General of Kansas
Visiting Assistant Professor at Law
Liberty University School of Law