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Phill Kline (Associated Press/Photo by John Hanna)

'All a diversion'

Law | A Kansas ethics panel calls for Planned Parenthood prosecutor Phill Kline to lose his law license

Former Kansas attorney general Phill Kline is not surprised that a three-member state ethics panel recommended two weeks ago that his Kansas law license be suspended indefinitely. Kline spent six years investigating Planned Parenthood and late-term abortionist George Tiller, but a hostile legal establishment stonewalled his every move and then charged him with misconduct (see "Vengeance on the prairie," WORLD Magazine, May 21).

The panel members "were doing what they were appointed to do," he told me. "What does surprise me is that they were so willing to ignore law and fact."

The report from the Board of Discipline of Attorneys said Kline repeatedly deceived officials in the course of his investigation and even tried to mislead the ethics panel itself.

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The Kansas Supreme Court will now decide whether to suspend Kline's law license. The court, which appointed the panelists and the prosecutor, has publicly criticized Kline in past judgments. Critics say it also twice deliberately stalled prosecutions of Kansas abortionists until Kline was no longer attorney general.

Kline denies doing anything wrong: "I upheld the integrity of my profession and the law, and I'd do it again." Two earlier probes found he had violated no ethical rules.

With his law license in Kansas currently inactive, Kline, now a visiting professor of law at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., does not plan to return to the state to practice law. Still, if his Kansas license is suspended, he said, it will be very difficult to be licensed in other states. "It'll have a dramatic impact on my life," he said.

According to Kline, the ethics panel's recommendation is an attempt to discredit the 107 criminal charges he filed in 2007 against Planned Parenthood for manufacturing client records and breaking various abortion laws. Those charges are still pending; an Oct. 24 trial is set for a Johnson County, Kan., courtroom.

At stake, potentially, is Planned Parenthood's $290 million in federal funding, which government regulations suggest should be stripped if the organization is convicted of a crime.

"It's all a diversion," Kline said. "[The ethics hearing] was the only way to get out the story that the abortion clinics were doing nothing illegal."

Listen to a report on Phill Kline on the Oct. 22 edition of the radio program The World and Everything in It.

Les Sillars
Les Sillars

Les directs the journalism program at Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Va., and is the editor of WORLD's Mailbag section.

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