Anti-Abortion AG to Argue for Charges

The Associated Press
Tuesday, December 26, 2006; 7:03 PM

TOPEKA, Kan. -- A judge agreed Tuesday to let Kansas' attorney general, a vocal abortion opponent, try to persuade him to reinstate charges against a well-known abortion provider.

District Judge Paul W. Clark scheduled a hearing for Wednesday after Attorney General Phill Kline asked him to reconsider his decision to dismiss the case against Dr. George Tiller over a jurisdictional issue.

Kline, who lost his re-election bid in November and leaves office in three weeks, filed 30 misdemeanor counts last week accusing Tiller of illegally performing 15 late-term abortions.

On Friday, Clark dismissed the charges after Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston argued that Kline didn't have the authority to file the charges.

The judge said he would consider on Wednesday only whether a district court can limit a district attorney's power to dismiss a criminal case and, if there are circumstances allowing a court to intervene, whether they are present in Tiller's case.

Tiller's attorney, Dan Monnat, said that he's confident Clark's earlier dismissal of the charges would stand. "This could be viewed as a basic question of separation of powers: When a prosecutor wants to dismiss a case, what power does a court have to interfere?"

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.

Critics have accused Kline of letting a personal, ideological agenda drive his decisions.

Kline did not return telephone messages Tuesday.

"Tomorrow's hearing will tell if corrupt partisan politics will continue to interfere with justice," said Troy Newman, president of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue.

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

© 2006 The Associated Press