Kansas Court Dismisses Abortion Charges

By Roxana Hegeman
Associated Press
Saturday, December 23, 2006

WICHITA, Dec. 22 -- Kansas's attorney general, a vocal opponent of abortion, charged a well-known abortion provider Friday with illegally performing late-term abortions, but a Sedgwick County judge threw out the charges only hours later.

Judge Paul W. Clark dismissed the charges against 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.

Kline, who lost his reelection 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 believe is a flawed decision by a district court judge," Kline said at a news conference in Topeka.

Kline said that he did consult Foulston about the case Thursday and that she did not object.

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.

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 antiabortion 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.

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 could survive outside the womb. If the fetus is viable, the procedure can be used only to preserve the woman's physical or mental health.

The charges involve situations in which Tiller cannot demonstrate that a woman faced permanent damage to a major bodily function, or Tiller's conclusions 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 contain no evidence of crimes by either the clinics or their doctors.

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