by Steven Ertelt
July 3, 2007
Topeka, KS (LifeNews.com) — Late-term abortion practitioner George Tiller may have violated a Kansas law saying that such abortions can only be done for legitimate health reasons and if two physicians sign off on them. Now that pro-abortion Attorney General Paul Morrison has charged him with 19 violations of the law, he’s suing to overturn it.
As the first response to the new charges, attorneys for Tiller have filed a lawsuit claiming the Kansas law is unconstitutional. Tiller’s attorneys argue that the provision of the law that requires two or more doctors to sign off on late-term abortions is invalid.
In their motion Monday, they also seek to dismiss the 19 misdemeanor charges Morrison filed that would have Tiller in jail as long as 19 years if convicted. He could also be fined $2500 per violation and lose his medical license.
Morrison last week filed charges alleging that before performing 19 late-term abortions in 2003, Tiller received a second opinion from abortion practitioner Ann Kristin Neuhaus, who Morrison said had financial ties with Tiller.
A 1998 Kansas law says that before an abortion of a baby 21 weeks or older, two physicians must determine if continuation of a pregnancy will lead to death or "substantial and irreversible" harm to a "major bodily function."
The consulting doctor can have no financial or legal ties to the abortion practitioner.
Tiller’s attorneys claim the requirement is unconstitutional because it is vague and say it also violates a woman’s so-called right to an abortion under Supreme Court rulings and places an undue burden on abortion practitioners.
"There is absolutely no guidance in the state as to what activities constitute legal or financial affiliation — or how a physician might avoid some prosecutor making such a filing," the attorneys wrote, according to an AP report.
They point to the ruling in the 1973 Doe v. Bolton case that was the companion to Roe v. Wade. In it, the high court ruled that the Georgia law requiring three doctors to sign off on an abortion was unconstitutional.
Morrison spokeswoman Ashley Anstaett told the Wichita Eagle newspaper that the lawsuit is not a shock.
"We fully anticipated they would challenge the constitutionality of the statute," she said. Anstaett indicated that Morrison will file a response with the court defending the law.
Dan Monnat, one of Tiller’s lawyers, told AP that a hearing on the request is scheduled for July 13.
Meanwhile, former state attorney general Phill Kline, who lost to Morrison in the 2006 elections, criticized Morrison for only charging Tiller under the second-physician provision and not for the more serious crime of doing late-term abortions for illegitimate reasons under the law. That’s the same complaint Kansans for Life, the leading pro-life group, had.
"Hopefully, the statute will be upheld," Kline told the Eagle, saying Morrison "has charged (Tiller) under the weakest section of the law."