Kansas Supreme Court Holds Hearing in Planned Parenthood Illegal Abortion Case

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 13, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Kansas Supreme Court Holds Hearing in Planned Parenthood Illegal Abortion Case

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
May 13
, 2009

Topeka, KS (LifeNews.com) — The Kansas Supreme Court on Wednesday held a hearing in a case involving an Overland Park Planned Parenthood center under investigation for allegedly doing illegal abortions and falsifying medical records. The hearing covered disputed subpoenas filed by former state attorney general Phill Kline.

The court will eventually determine whether subpoenas Kline issued for medical records from the Planned Parenthood facility can be enforced.

Kline, also the former Johnson County District Attorney, filed 107 charges, including 23 felonies, against the abortion business for allegedly violating state law. Planned Parenthood has been trying to get back copies of the abortion records Kline obtained.

During the hearing, Steven Obermeier represented the District Attorney’s office and indicated that district court Judge Richard Anderson, who initially allowed Kline to receive the records, is prevented from testifying before the Kansas Supreme Court because of a gag order it issued.

Because the gag order relates to a separate case, he asked the high court that Anderson be allowed to testify.

Obermeier explained that the District Attorney’s office frequently handles confidential documents and that state law calls the abortion records confidential doesn’t mean they are beyond a subpoena. He said judges typically never quash subpoenas for documents from the state health department.

Planned Parenthood attorney Pedro Irigonegaray opposed the District Attorney’s office appeal of Judge Steven Tatum decision to quash the subpoenas and claimed it was "motivated by politics rather than by rule of law."

He argued that abortion cases should be given special treatment under law and handled different than cases about other topics, citing a concern for "patient privacy."

That comment was seized on by pro-life advocates monitoring the hearing.

"That statement by Planned Parenthood’s lawyer was very telling, because he is trying to carve out special privileges under the law for abortion cases, placing them above the laws and procedures that would apply to any other case," Operation Rescue president Troy Newman told LifeNews.com.

"In other words, Planned Parenthood would have abortion records treated with more sensitivity than rape or murder records. This is ridiculous and is simply a ploy to keep incriminating evidence out of court," Newman added.

Meanwhile, Kansans for Life director Mary Kay Culp told LifeNews.com that Planned Parenthood continues to play politics.

"Today the defendants again tried to make the illegitimate claim that the prosecution was political because of something Phill Kline said," she explained. "The prosecution issue is simple, but has become absurdly distorted because the issue involves abortion."

"The only real ‘politics’ in this case is the abortion industry political money in play, which gave us this Supreme Court, got rid of Kline, gave us this Attorney General,and some key legislators that keep us from overriding the governor’s vetoes," Culp added.

The justices took the case under advisement and a ruling in the case is expected in June. Their decision could determine whether the criminal case against Planned Parenthood moves ahead

Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe told AP, "Upon the ruling by the Supreme Court, we’ll be evaluating the case and making a decision on how to proceed."

Two judges have determined that the files show "probable cause" that the abortion business violated state abortion laws and falsified medical records. Kline legally received the records during his investigation of Planned Parenthood and transferred them to his new office when he became the county attorney.

Judge Anderson originally validated Kline’s access to the files and testified he had reason to believe documents filed by Planned Parenthood with the Kansas Department of Health and Environment had been falsified before Kline’s investigation while he was attorney general.
The records showed, according to Anderson, that the age of the babies involved in the abortions had been altered to hide the fact that Planned Parenthood was engaging in illegal late-term abortions.

They also include a Topeka attorney and two Kansas Department of Health and Environment officials.

The criminal case against Planned Parenthood, which also includes allegations that it engaged in a felony by making copies of state health department abortion reports that it failed to keep on file as required by law, is on hold.

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