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.
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.
The motion asserts that this was a ploy to get the evidence out of Kline's hands and ultimately back to the abortion provider. Earlier in her ruling, Beier accepted that Morrison had immediate access to the original records, which were in a judge's custody, plus his own copies. Moreover, this "relief" relieved nothing: Months before Beier granted it, Morrison dropped the charges against Planned Parenthood.
Beier then "sanctioned" Kline for this non-existent offense by ordering him to turn over to Morrison copies of all the evidence against Planned Parenthood he had collected since leaving the attorney general's office and becoming Johnson Country's district attorney. To insist that evidence gathered in his Johnson County case be turned over the state prosecutor as a "sanction" for a previous case was a jaw-dropping demand.
The motion also accuses Beier of promoting a "third-wave" feminist agenda at the expense of the court's integrity. The basis is a 2008 paper she wrote for a legal conference in which she described the "choice-throttling oppressions" of the traditional family structure and endorsed using the media as "tools" to transform society (download a PDF of the paper).
The ethics panel ruling against Kline is just as bizarre, according to his lawyer. Kline is accused, for example, of lying to officials at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. But he and his investigators merely declined to tell them what they were investigating-standard practice for investigators. Another charge says he misled a grand jury, but the ethics panel allowed only one grand juror to testify-the one who filed the complaint-and her evidence contradicted the account in the official transcripts. This, Condit said, is not the "clear and convincing evidence" the law requires to punish a lawyer in such cases.
If the replacement judges are fair, Condit said, "Phill Kline will be completely vindicated."
But will there be a different outcome this time? Kline has fared poorly so far. Mary Kay Culp, the state executive director of Kansans for Life, believes that Dan Biles, the presiding justice who will pick the replacement judges, is pro-abortion. The Kansas legal establishment, she said, intends to send a message to prosecutors across the country about investigating Planned Parenthood: "The ethics charges are meant to be intimidating."
As for the continuing Johnson County criminal case against Planned Parenthood, a judge dismissed 23 felonies last fall when he discovered that state bureaucrats had shredded key evidence years earlier (see "Into the shredder," Nov. 19, 2011). But the abortion giant still faces a scheduling hearing on July 11 on dozens of misdemeanor counts of failure to determine the viability of unborn children and unlawful late-term abortions.