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Kline (Associated Press/Photo by John Hanna, file)

More evidence

Abortion | An abortionist's records could lead to a new investigation in Kansas of abortion industry practices

Operation Rescue president Troy Newman believes he has the evidence prosecutors need to investigate a Kansas City abortion center for failure to report child rape, improper disposal of patient records, and other charges. Earlier this month an anonymous source delivered records involving 86 patients, including for four minors, treated in April at Central Family Medicine.

On Wednesday a representative of the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts took possession of the records. Operation Rescue kept copies.

"There is a compelling state interest in reopening the investigation [into the abortion industry that] Phill Kline started," Newman said.

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That won't be easy. Former Kansas Attorney General Kline opened an investigation into Planned Parenthood and other abortionists for similar offenses in 2003. Nine years later Planned Parenthood has yet to be convicted of a single offense while Kline has been thoroughly vilified in the media and twice tossed from office.

He now waits for the Kansas Supreme Court, which he believes torpedoed his case, to decide whether to suspend his law license following a series of ethics charges (see "Vengeance on the prairie," May 21, 2011).

Operation Rescue has posted photos of Central Family Medicine records on its website with identifying information blacked out. Because sex with a person under the age of 15 is by definition "child rape" in Kansas, the abortion center by law should be reporting all abortions involving girls that young to state officials so they can determine whether to ignore it as a "Romeo and Juliet" scenario or follow up suspected abuse.

The records include state Supplemental Termination of Pregnancy Report forms that were pre-printed with an "X" in the "No" box for the question of whether the facility reported suspected abuse to the state health agency. The boxes for personal information were blank. This suggests that the facility never intended to report minors or abused women to the state.

An official from Central Family Medicine told The Kansas City Star that somebody broke into a locked trash bin last week but no improperly disposed records were in it. Newman said he is confident his source obtained the documents legally.

Thomas Brejcha, a lawyer with the pro-life Thomas More Society, finds that believable. In years past he has handled cases in which abortion facility staff tossed records-and in a few instances human remains-into the trash. "I see this as another proof that all this talk of patient privacy is just a smokescreen that clinics use to ward off investigations," he said. "It's déjà vu all over again."

Will Kansas officials prosecute? Newman said he's hopeful, although politicians respond to public pressure and so far there's been only one news story about the records. Plus, state politicians have been dealing with the abortion issue lately: Last week Gov. Sam Brownback signed into law "conscience" protections for healthcare providers who refuse to participate in abortions.

Prosecutors may also be keeping an eye on Kline's ethics hearing. Last fall a state legal panel recommended that the court indefinitely suspend Kline's law license for allegedly misleading state officials and the courts during the tumultuous six years he spent prosecuting Planned Parenthood for crimes ranging from failure to report child rape to forging patient records. Kline strongly denies the charges.

In the latest development, five of the seven Kansas Supreme Court justices set to rule on his ethics case recused themselves last Friday. Their decision came three days after Kline filed a recusal motion against two of the seven, Justice Carol Beier and Chief Justice Lawton Nuss.

The justices recused themselves on the grounds that they had handled complaints about Kline during the Planned Parenthood case and so could not be his "last reviewers." The court will rule on the recommendation this fall.

Kline's lawyer, Thomas Condit, noted that the justices have known of the conflict since December. "They seized on a pretext to make it look high-minded," Condit said, "and make everyone look past our recusal motion."

A court spokesman said ethics guidelines prevented the justices from commenting on the case.

The 80-page motion (download a PDF of the motion) levels some spectacular charges against Beier, accusing her of "deep-seated antagonism" against Kline, of protecting Planned Parenthood by distorting evidence, and of publicly denigrating Kline through her rulings.

The motion relates, for example, how Beier wrote in 2008 that when Republican Kline left the attorney general's office in 2007 to become Johnson County's district attorney, he took with him "all" of the evidence (mostly patient records) against Planned Parenthood in an effort to "stand in the way of" his successor, Democrat Paul Morrison. As "relief" she ordered Kline to turn over all the evidence to Morrison.

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