Verdict in George Tiller Late-Term Abortion Trial Expected Friday, Witnesses Done
by Steven Ertelt
March 26, 2009
Wichita, KS (LifeNews.com) — Attorneys for late-term abortion practitioner George Tiller finished questioning witnesses on Thursday as both sides prepare to present their closing arguments tomorrow. The case involves 19 charges against Tiller for allegedly violating the state’s laws regulating law-term abortions.
At issue is whether Tiller wrongly used an abortion practitioner who worked part-time for him to validate the abortions when the state law calls for an independent physician to determine if they are medically necessary.
Tiller attorneys rested their case following an hour of testimony this morning and they again requested an acquittal for their client claiming prosecutors lack evidence showing Tiller violating the laws.
Prosecutors have said Tiller’s attorneys trained Kristin Neuhaus and that she profited financially from her work with Tiller signing off on his abortions. They say Tiller and Neuhaus worked together exclusively for years, violating the independent nature of the physician the state requires.
"Tiller’s office controlled when and where Dr. Neuhaus saw his patients," Assistant Attorney General Barry Disney said. "Neuhaus worked for Dr. Tiller. She was incorporated into the office just like an employee."
But defense attorney Lee Thompson claimed Disney is asking the court to have a different interpretation of the state law than what legislators intended. He says Tiller never meant to imply in previous comments that he was Neuhaus’ employer.
Judge Clark Owens denied the defense’s motion for acquittal, but he said that the prosecution’s argument that Tiller and Neuhaus had a legal relationship is weak. However, he says the evidence appears to show they had a financial relationship.
During the hearing Thursday, prosecutors questioned defense witness Rachael Pirner about whether the Kansas Board of Healing Arts ever addressed the relationship between Tiller and Neuhaus when it suggested Tiller use her to meet the state law.
Pirner said she thinks Larry Buening, the former head of the state medical board, had the authority to make the recommendation. She says the board thought Tiller was operating within the law and that it wasn’t until former Attorney General Phill Kline questioned it that any legal action against Tiller begin.
With closing statements in the case taking place on Friday, a verdict in the case could be reached tomorrow.
Meanwhile, pro-life groups are responding to Wednesday’s trial date, which saw Tiller take the stand himself.
"Tiller’s testimony under the questioning of his attorney, Dan Monnat, seemed well rehearsed and even memorized," Troy Newman of Operation Rescue, which has been monitoring the case, pointed out to LifeNews.com.
"But under cross examination by Assistant Attorney General Barry Disney, Tiller appeared to have some difficulty processing the questions and giving extemporaneous response," he said.
At one point, Tiller began to refer to his relationship with Neuhaus saying, "When she was working for me," but quickly issued a correction stating, "when she was providing consultations for patients."
"I think the first statement was truer than the rehearsed correction," Newman said. "In an unguarded moment, he revealed the way he normally considered her relationship to him."
Another dramatic moment regarding how Tiller actually viewed his affiliation with Neuhaus came when he discussed how long it took to make arrangements for Neuhaus to begin consulting for him.
"When someone new was going to join your organization, it would take time [to set up]," he said.
Tiller admitted that he profited financially by Neuhaus consulting with his patients. He estimated that he did 250-300 post-viability abortions in 2003 at an average cost of $6,000. He said that without Neuhaus’ help, he would not have been able to do those abortions.
He told the court that his overhead is 62% of the fees generated by his clinic. His salary is 38% of the gross income of his clinic. Tiller never said how much money he made from abortions prior to viability.
"Doing the math, Tiller personally made at least $684,000 killing viable babies in 2003, and we don’t know how much he made killing non-viable babies," said Newman. "But we do know it would be a huge blow to the Tiller income if he were unable to do the late-term abortions for lack of a second Kansas referring physician."
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