Dispatches > News

Into the shredder

Kansas abortion case takes another turn, this time involving key Obama health adviser

Issue: "Food stamps surge," Nov. 19, 2011

A Kansas district judge 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.

The Oct. 24 decision came after it was revealed that in 2005, while 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, the crucial documents went missing.

Prosecutors now have a November deadline to gather other evidence 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. Prosecutors say that the state health department only 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 did not disclose the shredding to the court or prosecutors for six years-until 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.

In 2003 then Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline opened an investigation into Planned Parenthood and other Kansas abortion providers to determine whether they were reporting child rape, keeping proper client records, and properly determining the viability of late-term babies before performing abortions-all required by state laws.

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

In 2006, as the investigation dragged on, a judge forced Planned Parenthood to turn over redacted patient files. 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. To the judge it appeared that 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 been shredded the year before; the Kansas health department 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 a Nov. 9 hearing. Planned Parenthood also faces 84 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 it acknowledged "certain idiosyncrasies" in its copies of the reports but said that its records contained the same data as the health department's copies.

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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