by Steven Ertelt
September 12, 2007
Wichita, KS (LifeNews.com) — Lawyers for late-term abortion practitioner George Tiller failed to block the seating of a grand jury that a pro-life group hopes will investigate whether more illegal abortions were done at his abortion center. Kansans for Life submitted petitions last week to invoke a law allowing citizens to petition for a grand jury probe.
Tiller’s attorneys attempted yesterday to persuade Federal Court Judge J. Thomas Marten to block the process.
Marten denied Tiller’s request saying, "Frankly, I’m reluctant to jump into the middle of something that is essentially a state matter. The odds that any appellate court would uphold any injunction in this case would be pretty remote."
Yesterday, Sedgwick County Election Commissioner Bill Gale certified that 6,963 valid signatures were submitted, nearly three times the 2,449 signatures required under the statute.
The petition has been forwarded to the Sedgwick County Court’s presiding judge for assignment.
Following Judge Marten’s decision, Tiller’s lawyers have promised to take their case to state courts to block the investigation.
Tiller has already been charged by Attorney General Paul Morrison with doing 19 illegal late-term abortions. He allegedly did not have an independent physician sign off on the abortions and certify they were medically necessary.
Morrison has refused to investigate any other records even though his predecessor Phill Kline found that other abortions Tiller’s center did violated the law, and in more serious ways.
Kansans for Life spokesman David Gittrich previously talked with LifeNews.com about the petition effort.
Kansas law prohibits these post-viable abortions except in dire emergencies or when the life of the mother is immediately threatened.
Since 1998, when this law went into effect, there have been over 2,519 post-viable abortions performed.
"We don’t believe that all of the 2,519 women were in danger of having substantial and irreversible injuries to major bodily functions as the law dictates," Gittrich said. "Kansas statistics reveal that none were done where the life of the mother was threatened. Therefore, many of these post-viable abortions are against the law."
Responding to the petitions, Dan Monnat, a Wichita attorney representing Tiller, told radio station KFDI, "Dr. Tiller is innocent of any wrongdoing and, despite constant harassment by anti-choice extremists, he continues to protect women’s right to choose by providing quality medical services."
Kansans for Life is requesting that the District Court appoint an independent prosecutor so that neither Sedgwick County District Attorney’s office nor the Kansas Attorney General’s office will be associated with the grand jury.
That’s because both have received political support from Tiller-associated groups.
Other pro-life groups also support the effort.
"It is very likely that thousands of viable babies have been illegally killed by Tiller and his three hired abortionists over the last five years," Operation Rescue President Troy Newman said in a statement to LifeNews.com Wednesday.
"Tiller’s attorneys are fighting tooth and nail to thwart justice. They know that Tiller could face years in jail if convicted on even a fraction of the illegal abortions," he added. "We expect Tiller’s lawyers to try ever devious trick in the book to keep Tiller from having to darken the doorway of a courtroom."