Judge Drops Charges Against Abortion Doc

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The Associated Press
Saturday, December 23, 2006; 2:24 AM

WICHITA, Kan. -- Kansas' attorney general, a vocal abortion opponent, charged a well-known abortion provider with illegally performing late-term abortions, but a Sedgwick County judge on Friday threw out the charges after less than a day.

Judge Paul W. Clark dismissed the charges against Dr. George Tiller at the request of Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston, who said her office had not been consulted by Attorney General Phill Kline.

Clark signed his one-page order only hours after Kline's complaint against Tiller was unsealed.

Kline, who lost his re-election bid in November and leaves office in three weeks, said he would try to get Clark to reinstate the charges.

"We are pursuing a legal remedy to what we consider a flawed decision by a district court judge," Kline said during a news conference in Topeka.

The 30 misdemeanor counts Kline filed against Tiller involve 15 abortions from July through November 2003. They were performed on patients 22 years old or younger, including a 10-year-old, according to the criminal complaint unsealed Friday in Sedgwick County District Court.

Tiller's clinic, known for being one of the few in the country to perform late-term abortions, has been a high-profile target of anti-abortion protesters for decades. The clinic was bombed in 1985, and Tiller was shot in both arms by a protester in 1993.

Kline has been investigating whether Tiller and other abortion providers performed illegal late-term abortions in Kansas or failed to report suspected child abuse as required by law. Earlier this year, he obtained the records of 90 patients from Tiller's clinic and a clinic operated by Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri.

Under Kansas law, if a woman wants to obtain an abortion after the 22nd week of her pregnancy, a doctor must first determine whether the fetus can survive outside the womb. If the fetus is viable, the procedure can be used only to preserve her physical or mental health.

None of the abortions involved a late-term procedure opponents call "partial birth" abortion, Kline said. The charges involve situations in which Tiller cannot demonstrate that a woman faced permanent damage to a major bodily function, or Tiller's conclusion that some patients' mental health would be harmed if they did not have abortions, Kline said.

Tiller and Planned Parenthood have repeatedly said that they have committed no wrongs and that the patient records Kline obtained contained no evidence of crimes by either the clinics or their doctors.

"We also intend to explore any and all means of holding Kline personally responsible for his malicious actions," Tiller attorney Dan Monnat said.

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© 2006 The Associated Press

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