Planned Parenthood Hearing on Illegal Abortion Charges Postponed

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 3, 2012   |   4:26PM   |   Washington, DC

A hearing in the criminal case against a Kansas Planned Parenthood abortion clinic, which was scheduled for last Thursday, has been put off indefinitely. Attorneys for Planned Parenthood and the District Attorney’s office made a brief appearance in court last week to ask for the continuance.

The charges alleged that planned Parenthood failed to report cases of child rape on children on whom Planned Parenthood did abortions, that it failed to test whether an unborn child was viable (as required by state law) before doing a late-term abortion, and that it manipulated records it submitted to the state to cover up those crimes.

Because former attorney general Steve Six, an appointee of former Gov Kathleen Sebelius, destroyed the documents, a court dismissed all of the felony charges filed against Planned Parenthood because the evidence supporting those charges had been destroyed. Under Sebelius, the Kansas Health and Education Department fought access by Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline to original copies of abortion reports needed to prosecute Planned Parenthood.

Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue and Pro-Life Nation, says a status hearing conference call has been scheduled for July 11, 2012. At that time, attorneys will discuss how much more time they need for motions and responses related to the remaining misdemeanor charges.

“Capital murder cases have been tried in less time than this case has taken, and there is no end in sight,” Newman complained. “We question the resolve of District Attorney Howe to pursue a prosecution in this case, which has languished in court since 2007.”

Planned Parenthood faces 58 misdemeanors related to illegal late-term abortions. The case was rocked by scandal last year when District Attorney Steve Howe told the court that crucial evidence had been destroyed during the administration of former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who now serves as U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. That evidence was needed to prove the most serious charges that Planned Parenthood had manufactured evidence to cover for other crimes. Because the prosecution could not produce the evidence, Judge Stephen Tatum dismissed 49 of 107 original counts last November, leaving the remaining 58 counts pending.

Democratic Attorneys General under Sebelius actively worked through the years to subvert the investigation and prosecution of Planned Parenthood. Disgraced Attorney General Paul Morrison issued a letter in June, 2007, “clearing” Planned Parenthood of wrong-doing. Judge Richard Anderson, who oversaw the investigation, deemed that letter inappropriate.

As District Attorney, Phill Kline filed the 107-count criminal case against Planned Parenthood just four months later. After Morrison was forced to resign due to a sex and abortion corruption scandal, his successor, Sebelius appointee Steve Six, obtained a gag order on Judge Anderson and the incriminating records in his custody. The current Attorney General is a pro-life Republican.

Newman, who was in court for Thursday’s hearing, spotted Morrison in an elevator with Planned Parenthood’s attorneys and CEO Peter Brownlie.

“Political corruption has impeded and delayed this case for nearly decade,” said Newman. “It is past time for the court and the attorneys to stop the delay tactics and bring this case to trial.”

Newman said it took former Attorney General Phill Kline three years of constant court battles just to get a look at heavily redacted abortion records that he first subpoenaed in 2003. When Kline transferred copies of those files to himself when he became Johnson County District Attorney, he was vilified for continuing the criminal investigation he began as Attorney General. Agencies that should have been assisting investigators in the early going, such as the Sebelius-controlled Kansas Department of Health and Environment, actively misled prosecutors and worked to block them from accessing records.

“This criminal case against Planned Parenthood has survived the most rigorous political and legal attempts to subvert and destroy it. That is because the evidence against Planned Parenthood is strong. That evidence deserves a full airing in a court of law. Anything less would be a gross miscarriage of justice and send the wrong message that abortion businesses are above the law,” said Newman.

Responding to the scandal, Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt asked the Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office to launch an investigation. He said he had asked the Shawnee County sheriff to investigate and asked the county’s district attorney to handle any resulting case.

“’(Schmidt) wants a complete, separate investigation from an outside law enforcement agency,’ Sheriff Dick Barta said, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal. ‘That’s why we were requested to do that.’”

Later during a hearing, District Attorney Steve Howe explained to Judge Stephen Tatum that former Attorney General Steve Six had destroyed the copies of Termination of Pregnancy (TOP) forms obtained through subpoena under former Attorney General Phill Kline. The destruction took place after Kline had filed the charges and while the case was under appeal. Howe indicated that the destruction of the evidence by Six “may have violated their own retention policy.”

The forms were critical evidence since a copy of the forms were supposed to be maintained in the patient files. However, when Kline received the patient files after three years of legal wrangling, it was discovered that the forms submitted to KDHE and the forms in the patient records did not match. Judge Richard Anderson had the forms analyzed by police handwriting evidence and determined that the forms in the patient filed had been manufactured.

Operation Rescue received documents via an open records request that shows on August 10, 2005, Planned Parenthood’s Sheila Kostas made an e-mail request for information on all the TOP forms submitted by their organization for the years 2000-2004. The Kansas Supreme Court was set to hear oral arguments just a few weeks later on September 5, 2005, concerning weather Planned Parenthood and late-term abortion practitioner George Tiller would have to comply with subpoenas for patient records.

The records show that KDHE’s Greg Crawford complied with Kosta’s request the following day. Information supplied by Crawford could have easily been used by Planned Parenthood to fill out bogus TOP forms and insert them into the patient files to cover up for the fact that they had not maintained the records as required by law.

Without the original forms or the copies obtained by Kline, Howe told the court that he was left with an incomplete set of copies and cannot establish a chain of custody for them, making the legal hurdles in continuing the prosecution of the felony charges “insurmountable.”