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Patience and providence

Abortion | Phill Kline's six-year investigation of Planned Parenthood planted seeds that are now, finally, bearing fruit

In 2003 then-Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat, and other abortion supporters in her state had a problem. The new attorney general, Republican Phill Kline, was poking around state agencies looking for figures and documents related to Planned Parenthood and late-term abortionist George Tiller, both staunch political allies of the governor.

It soon became obvious what Kline was after: He had discovered that Planned Parenthood and Tiller were regularly performing abortions on girls under age 15 (166 over 18 months), but during that time they reported only one of those cases each to the state as child rape.

State agencies tried to stonewall the investigation, resisting Kline's efforts to obtain the documents he needed to file misdemeanor charges of failing to report child rape. Over the next six years, the Sebelius political machine and the Kansas legal establishment so effectively vilified Kline publicly he was twice booted from public office. This month a state disciplinary board recommended that he be stripped of his law license in Kansas even though two previous ethics investigations had cleared him. (See "Vengeance on the prairie," May 21, and "'All a diversion,'" Oct. 20.)

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But the problem, instead of going away, somehow just keeps getting worse. Planned Parenthood is now facing the 107 criminal charges that Kline managed to file just before losing his job as Johnson County, Kans., district attorney in 2008. Most are misdemeanors for failing to keep proper client records and properly determining the viability of late-term babies before performing abortions-all of those charges arose during the initial investigation into child rape.

Twenty-three charges are much more serious felonies: making "false writings." The abortion giant is accused, essentially, of forging client records in an attempt to avoid prosecution for failing to keep proper records.

Sebelius, now President Obama's secretary of Health and Human Services, and her former administration in Kansas found themselves back in the middle of the mess last week, when the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) revealed that in 2005 it had destroyed records important to the investigation of the current "false writings" charges. The KDHE claimed, according to prosecutors in a court filing, it was a "routine" shredding, but the KDHE had notified neither Kline nor the court that the original documents had been destroyed, even as Kline continued to try to obtain them for more than two years after their shredding (see "Shredded evidence," Oct. 25). Copies may still exist, but whether there is enough additional evidence to render those copies admissible will be determined at a Nov. 9 hearing.

On many occasions Phill Kline has wondered if it all has been worth it; personally for him, it has been a very painful decade. But if Gov. Sebelius and her administration had been more cooperative with the Kline investigation back in 2003, the abortionists may well have been convicted of a handful of misdemeanors, paid a modest fine, and that would have been the end of it.

Instead, Planned Parenthood is facing a serious criminal trial just as conservatives are ramping up demands to defund the organization nationally. Sebelius herself may well face some embarrassing questions, such as, "Is it really 'routine' for the KDHE to destroy documents relevant to a criminal investigation against your political allies?"

Operation Rescue on Thursday filed its first round of open records demands with the Kansas governor's office and with the KDHE, seeking public documents to figure out who, exactly, was involved in shredding that evidence in 2005 and why.

In a remarkable providence, the person most responsible for deciding whether to pull Planned Parenthood's funding, should the organization be convicted, is none other than HHS Secretary Sebelius. Her political problems could make it much more difficult to protect her old friends at Planned Parenthood.

Pretty clearly, Kline has endured a lot over the years, but in the end Planned Parenthood is now perhaps as vulnerable as it ever has been. Kline has told me that he'd do it all again if he had to, but the process has been incredibly hard. "It's that darn faith thing," said Kline, who goes into more detail about his involvement in this case at his website, Stand With Truth.

Listen to an interview with Phill Kline from the Oct. 22 broadcast 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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