Kansas Judge Prevents District Attorney From Getting Abortion Reports
by Steven Ertelt
April 28, 2008
Overland Park, KS (LifeNews.com) — A Kansas judge has decided to prevent a local district attorney from getting state abortion reports that could make it clear a Planned Parenthood violated state law. Phill Kline has filed 107 counts against an abortion business suspected of doing illegal abortions and falsifying medical records.
Kline originally obtained the state abortion reports as the state attorney general but Planned Parenthood complained about him transferring them to his district attorney office.
Shawnee County Judge Richard Anderson, who oversaw the case when Kline was the attorney general, gave him permission to transfer the documents.
Kline asked the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to give him the abortion reports and the agency refused to comply with his subpoena and asked Johnson County District Court Judge Stephen Tatum to quash it.
The agency argued that it can’t break state law by releasing reports that identify the names of women who had abortions and that only state officials can get them in connection with criminal proceedings.
It is absurd to argue that no one outside the purview of the Attorney Generals office can ever obtain the information, Kline said.
Tatum ruled Monday that Kline can’t have the reports and said he agreed with the state health department’s reading of the law.
However, Kline has said that privacy concerns are not an issue because the abortion reports contain statistical data and not information identifying abortion patients.
In addition, any identifying information would be redacted and neither Kline’s office nor the public would ever know the names of women who had abortions done in violation of state law.
The records from the state health department would build Kline’s case that Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri and its Comprehensive Health clinic in Overland Park violated state abortion laws.
After the ruling, Kline told the Kansas City Star that he can proceed with his case against Planned Parenthood without the state abortion reports. However, the reports would allow him to proceed in a more efficient manner.
Last week, Rep. Lance Kinzer, the sponsor of a comprehensive abortion reduction measure Gov. Kathleen Sebelius recently vetoed, held a press conference Thursday with other state legislators accusing the state health department of violating the law in refusing to turn over the abortion reports.
"We have this continued recalcitrance by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment to follow the clear law of the state of Kansas and allow this prosecution to go forward, Kinzer said.
"KDHE has consistently failed and refused to properly perform its obligations to ensure that late term abortion providers report the medical reason and basis used to justify aborting viable unborn babies," Kinzer and the legislators added.