Late-Term Abortion Practitioner George Tiller Will Stand Trial After Court Ruling
by Steven Ertelt
February 25, 2009
Wichita, KS (LifeNews.com) — A decision by a local judge means Kansas-based late-term abortion practitioner George Tiller will stand trial for charges that he did illegal abortions. Tiller has been accused of violating state law requiring a second, independent, physician to sign off on his late-term abortions.
Tiller was slapped with 19 criminal charges for failing to follow the law and using a fellow abortion practitioner with whom he has a financial relationship to claim the abortions were medically necessary.
Sedgwick County District Court Judge Clark Owens released a decision Wednesday dismissing a request from Tiller attorneys that the evidence in the case be suppressed because of claims that it was improperly obtained.
Judge Owens addressed all the concerns Tiller’s attorneys brought up over six days of testimony, including claims that former Attorney General Phill Kline acted in a way that should allow the case to be dismissed.
Owens’ ruling exonerated Kline and allows the trial to move ahead.
"While Phill Kline testified that he would like for all abortions to be outlawed, his investigations made no attempts to prevent lawful abortions from being performed in the State of Kansas," Owens ruled.
"His conduct in the investigation does not merit the sanction of the dismissal of the charges or suppression of evidence," Judge Owens added. "The motion to dismiss or suppress is therefore denied."
Operation Rescue president Troy Newman has been closely following the case and he told LifeNews.com the decision is good news for Kansans and pro-life advocates.
"This decision brings us one step closer to justice," he said. "We continue to pray that true justice will be served on behalf of the innocent, viable babies wrongfully killed by Tiller."
Tiller is now scheduled to go to trial on March 16 concerning the charges and could face one year in prison for each count on which he is convicted.
Tiller attorneys claimed Kline didn’t get proper clearance from the courts for the evidence. They also claimed a sex scandal involving former Attorney General Paul Morrison, Kline’s successor, makes the evidence improper arguing that his mistress pressured him to prosecute Tiller.
During the testimony, Tiller attorney Dan Monnat questioned Kline and accused him of politicizing the investigation into Tiller because he is pro-life. Kline confirmed his pro-life views but said he was interested in enforcing state law.
"I wanted to enforce the law," he said. "My belief was that the law was not being enforced."
Assistant Attorney General Barry Disney argued for the state and current Attorney General Steve Six and he said Tiller’s lawyers had a very high burden in attempting to show the current or past attorney generals acted in a way that disqualifies the evidence.
In the abortions, Tiller should have followed state law requiring a concurring signature from a second physician who is not legally or financially affiliated with him. Instead, Tiller used an affiliated associate, abortion practitioner Ann Kristin Neuhaus, with whom he has a financial working relationship.
The second physician is supposed to validate whether the mother will face "substantial and irreversible" harm to "a major bodily function" without the abortion — the lone times when a late-term abortion can be done legally.
Mary Kay Culp, the director of Kansans for Life, previously talked with LifeNews.com about the case.
"Here we have a man trying to avoid a trial by falsely claiming he was singled out for prosecution, insisting that he be singularly allowed to put two attorneys general and a District Court Judge on trial first," she said.
"We can only hope that Tiller’s high-dollar defense show is about the judge wanting it out of the way prior to the Tiller trial next March, because any other explanation, or if it is allowed to result in cancellation of that trial, means this state’s capitulation to Tiller’s political power is complete," she added.
In July, Judge Clark Owens rejected a request from Tiller attorneys to overturn the charges based on a claim the law limiting late-term abortions is unconstitutional.
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