by Steven Ertelt
August 10, 2007
Wichita, KS (LifeNews.com) — George Tiller, the infamous late-term abortion practitioner in Kansas, got his first hearing on Friday over his challenge to the constitutionality of a law the state’s attorney general says he violated 19 times. If the law is upheld and Tiller is convicted on the misdemeanor charges, he could spend 19 years in prison.
Tiller is charged with violating a statute requiring a second physician to sign off on any abortions done late in pregnancy.
The doctor must not have any financial connections with the abortion practitioner. Yet, in the 19 cases for which he has been charged, Tiller received a second opinion from abortion practitioner Ann Kristin Neuhaus, who Attorney General Paul Morrison said had financial ties with Tiller.
In order to get the charges dismissed, Tiller’s attorneys have filed a lawsuit challenging the 1998 law.
Sedgwick County District Judge Tony Powell held an hour-long hearing on the statute today and said he doesn’t plan to issue a ruling until next month.
He also said he would likely hold another hearing to allow outside groups, like Kansans for Life, to express their opinions on the law.
KFL, yesterday, told LifeNews.com it is collecting the signatures necessary to compel a grand jury to conduct an independent investigation into whether Tiller violated the law in subsequent years. He has been charged with violations in 2003 but the pro-life organization says he could have violated the law on late-term abortions done from 2004-2007.
Should he uphold the law, Tiller will go to trial on the charges, for which he pleaded not guilty. If Judge Powell overturns the law, any trial would be delayed until an appeal is heard in the case.
Powell is a former state legislator who has voted pro-life and received support from two lawmakers who signed a friend of the court brief prepared by Americans United for Life. The AUL amicus brief says the law is constitutional because of Supreme Court decisions on what states can do to limit abortions.
The judge said none of that would influence his decision in the case and Tillers attorneys have not objected to Judge Powell presiding over the challenge to the late-term abortion law.
Judge Gregory Waller assigned Powell to the case and his decision came after pro-life groups said they weren’t concerned he could be partial. Waller has received campaign contributions from a political group affiliated with Tiller.
Morrison ended up filing a defense of the law with the court on Tuesday and Tiller’s lawyers responded on Thursday.