by Steven Ertelt
October 24, 2007
Topeka, KS (LifeNews.com) — Abortion practitioner George Tiller, who does late-term abortions at his business in Wichita, is asking the Kansas Supreme Court to block a possible grand jury probe. Attorney General Paul Morrison has filed charges accusing Tiller of breaking the state’s late-term abortion laws but pro-life advocates say there are many more violations.
Kansans for Life submitted petition to invoke a law allowing citizens to petition for a grand jury probe.
Earlier this month, District Judge Paul Buchanan turned back an effort by Tiller’s attorneys to dismiss the petition and said the grand jury would be summoned eventually.
State law requires grand juries to be summoned within 60 days of the approval of the signature effort. The grand jury is scheduled to convene Tuesday in Sedgwick County.
Though the effort to block the grand jury was dismissed, Tiller’s attorneys filed an appeal with the state Supreme Court.
Lee Thompson called the potential probe harassment against Tiller and he wants the high court to prevent the jury from convening.
“This is a proceeding brought for harassment and in bad faith by the petition gatherers,” he told the Associated Press. “You approach the level of vigilantism, and I think we see that happening in this instance.”
But Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, told AP that her group requested the grand jury probe because Tiller groups have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars influencing Kansas politics, including back Morrison.
She says the probe is needed because there are likely many more violations of state law that Morrison is failing to pursue.
“Nothing Dr. Tiller or any of his lawyers do surprises me — nothing,” Culp said. “It makes you wonder just what it is they’re so afraid of.”
“The Tiller situation is the perfect example of why this venue ought to be available to the public,” Culp added.
Should the grand jury move forward, it would be the second one following another probe 18 months ago that cleared Tiller of any wrongdoing in connection with the legal abortion death of a mentally disabled 19-year-old girl from Texas.
This is the second time Tiller lawyers tried to block the process.
Last month, Federal Court Judge J. Thomas Marten denied Tiller’s request to stop the process from moving ahead, 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."
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.
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.
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.