No Charges Against Kan. Abortion Doctor
Thursday, December 28, 2006; 7:39 PM
TOPEKA, Kan. -- Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline spent more than two years investigating a nationally known abortion provider, but he'll likely leave office next month with little to show for it.
A judge on Wednesday refused to reinstate the 30 criminal charges Kline filed against Dr. George Tiller, and Kline's successor said Thursday that he won't keep the special prosecutor Kline appointed on the case.
Democrat Paul Morrison, who defeated Kline in November and takes office as attorney general Jan. 8, did not completely rule out an investigation into Tiller.
But he told The Associated Press that any investigation won't involve Kline's special prosecutor. Kline had named Wichita attorney Don McKinney on Wednesday, saying having him as a special prosecutor would keep politics out of the investigation. But McKinney, who had campaigned for Kline, is viewed as a strong anti-abortion activist.
"He is extraordinarily political and, in my opinion, would absolutely not present any kind of independent perspective," Morrison said Thursday.
A Kline spokesman said the attorney general was unavailable Thursday morning for comment.
McKinney declined to respond in a statement, but added the state has enacted laws "to protect babies that are about to be born" and that "those laws need to be enforced and not winked at."
Kline had waged a successful two-year legal battle to get patient records from Tiller and other abortion providers. He filed charges against Tiller on Dec. 21, accusing the doctor of illegally using the mental health concerns of patients to justify late-term abortions and of failing to properly report procedures to the state.
Sedgwick County District Judge Paul W. Clark dismissed the charges on Dec. 22, citing a jurisdiction problem, and then refused this week to reinstate them.
Tiller's attorneys say the allegations are groundless.
Tiller, as one of the few doctors in the nation to perform late-term abortions, has long been a target of protesters. His clinic was bombed in 1985, and a protester shot him in both arms eight years later. He also helped finance hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of advertising aimed at defeating Kline in 2002 and 2006.
After Kline lost, abortion rights supporters expected him to move against Tiller before leaving office.