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Kathleen Sebelius (Associated Press/Photo by Orlin Wagner)

Shredded evidence

Abortion | Sebelius-directed Kansas agency destroyed key records in a criminal case against Planned Parenthood

A Kansas district judge Monday postponed a pre-trial hearing in the state's criminal case against Planned Parenthood after prosecutors revealed in court filings that Kansas health officials shredded documents related to felony charges the abortion giant faces.

In 2005, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment was under the direction of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a pro-abortion Democrat who now serves as secretary of Health and Human Services in the Obama administration.

Prosecutors have until Nov. 9 to gather other evidence that proves that Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri manufactured the records of clients who had late-term abortions. The abortion provider faces 23 "false writing" felony charges, and the documents were evidence central to the prosecutors' case. In filings last week, prosecutors said that the state health department had recently revealed to them that it had destroyed the documents in a "routine" shredding.

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Some Kansas pro-lifers believe that the agency under Sebelius deliberately destroyed evidence that supported allegations that Planned Parenthood, one of the former governor's staunchest political allies, was failing to report child rape. The health department failed to disclose that fact for six years, until it was forced to do so in the current felony case over whether Planned Parenthood manufactured client records.

"Not even we anticipated Sebelius and her administration could stoop this low to protect abortion industry criminality," said Kansans for Life executive director Mary Kay Culp. "Sebelius wanted to ensure that evidence of illegal abortions was removed before [Phill] Kline could use it to convict her abortion industry campaign supporters."

In 2003, Kline, who was then Kansas attorney general, opened an investigation into Planned Parenthood and other Kansas abortion providers that would over the next six years delve into whether they were reporting child rape, as required by law, keeping proper client records, and properly determining the viability of late-term babies before performing abortions.

Kansas law requires abortion providers to submit detailed patient reports to the state health department and keep copies of the reports in the patients' files. In 2003, Kline attempted to obtain from the health agency several dozen reports Planned Parenthood had filed. The health department initially resisted, but in 2004 it turned over to Kline's office copies of dozens of reports.

In 2006, as the investigation dragged on, Planned Parenthood was forced to turn over redacted patient files to a judge. Those files didn't contain the legally required copies of the health department reports, so the judge asked the organization to provide them. But when they arrived, Kline's investigators noticed that the "copies" of the reports Planned Parenthood provided didn't match the copies of the reports the health department had submitted. It looked to the judge like Planned Parenthood had manufactured the reports-in his words, "committed felonies to cover up misdemeanors."

Neither the judge nor prosecutors knew at this point that the original health department reports had already been shredded the year before; the Kansas Department of Health and Environment didn't disclose it then nor during the following two years of court battles, as the state agency continued to oppose Kline's efforts to obtain the originals.

"This was no routine purging," said Culp of Kansans for Life. "It really does need to be investigated further."

The trial on the "false writing" charges could still proceed, depending on the outcome of the Nov. 9 hearing. Planned Parenthood also faces 87 misdemeanor charges for failing to keep proper records and not determining the viability of a late-term baby before performing an abortion.

The abortion provider has long denied any wrongdoing. In a court filing Friday, it acknowledged "certain idiosyncrasies" in its copies of the reports but added that the records contained the same data as in the health department's copies.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Listen to a report on the Planned Parenthood case in Kansas from the Oct. 29 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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