Over the past few weeks, there has been much media attention about a judicial inquiry being conducted concerning child rape and potentially illegal late-term abortions in Kansas.
This inquiry has been ongoing for over a year and, until two abortion clinics sought to make public this criminal investigation, was conducted in private so as to protect the identities of innocent individuals and the integrity of the investigation.
Since that time, there have been some misleading statements in the media. I want to take this opportunity to clarify some of this information and explain key facts vital to the correct understanding of this issue.
The first part of this judicial inquiry concerns the rape of Kansas children. Child rape is a serious crime, and when a 10-year-old is pregnant she has been raped under Kansas law. As the state's chief law enforcement official, I have a duty to investigate in order to protect Kansas children.
I also have the duty to enforce Kansas law as it relates to illegal late-term abortion. Under Roe v. Wade, abortion is available on demand for any reason up to the moment of viability, or the point at which the child can live outside the mother's womb.
If a doctor is going to perform an abortion after that time, under Kansas law, the doctor must show that carrying the child to term would cause severe and irreversible damage to a major bodily function of the mother. If that criteria is met, the abortion may legally be performed.
Medical record evidence is critical to violent crime investigations. Every day, upon finding probable cause, courts subpoena medical records. Crimes are solved, and criminals incarcerated. However, certain abortion clinics seek to quash this vital investigative tool, jeopardizing the successful prosecution of violent predators.
The identities of child rape victims are confidential and not revealed in news reports. In fact, I was a primary author of the Kansas "rape shield" statute that prevents disclosure of rape victim identities. As a legislator, I chaired a privacy committee, authoring a Kansas law preventing genetic workplace discrimination. I have a proven record of strong concern for patient and victim privacy, but sex predators must be stopped from preying upon children in secret.
Just as the identity of a child who has been raped will never be revealed, the identities of women who may have had abortions not in compliance with Kansas law will remain private, as well. It is the doctor that is being investigated, not the woman. Women and children are not subjects of this inquiry and they need not fear.
Further, the investigation is targeted. The court subpoenaed only 90 records out of 12,000 abortions occurring annually in Kansas. Requested records are only those maintained by the clinics. These are not extensive medical histories maintained by a family physician. And, these records were not "demanded" by my office, nor should I have the power to do so. These records were subpoenaed by a court of law only after a finding of probable cause that a crime was committed and that these specific records may contain evidence of those crimes.
By contrast, two Kansas abortion clinics, while critical of this investigation as an invasion of privacy, have both demonstrated disregard for patient privacy. One clinic was cited by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment for record maintenance violations that could allow unauthorized access to confidential patient information. The other clinic, specializing in late-term abortion, indicated on its own Web site that patient information is used for political fund raising. Therefore, contrary to media speculation, it cannot be assumed that these facilities hold patient information in greater confidence than would a district court judge and law enforcement professionals.
I have a duty to protect children and enforce the law -- media speculation and rhetoric of abortion clinics notwithstanding.