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Archive for Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Kline: Texas AG investigating Tiller patient who later died

February 22, 2005

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— Wichita abortion doctor George Tiller is a potential witness for an investigation by Texas authorities involving a 19-year-old woman who was treated at his Wichita clinic and later died, Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline said.

Kline stressed that Tiller himself is not facing a criminal inquiry but has been subpoenaed as someone who may have evidence significant to Texas' investigation. A spokesman for the Texas attorney general's office said it is not investigating the woman's death but events in Texas before she went to Kansas.

Kline acknowledged his statements during a news conference Tuesday suggested that Texas officials were investigating the woman's death, but he later said, "I do not mean to infer that."

"It probably could have been worded more delicately," Kline said. "I just didn't want to get into the details of what Texas is doing."

Spokesman Ben Taylor said Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and Kline's office are cooperating, but that there had been a misunderstanding about the scope of Texas' investigation.

"Our investigation centers on events that may have happened in Texas," Taylor said. "We are not investigating the woman's death."

Tiller's clinic, Women Health Care Services, is under scrutiny because anti-abortion groups have reported that the woman died on or about Jan. 13. On Monday, Kansans for Life, the state's largest anti-abortion group, released a document confirming that the Kansas Board of Healing Arts has initiated its own investigation.

Julie Burkhart, a spokeswoman for Tiller's clinic, said it would respond to Kline's statements later.

Kline's spokesman, Whitney Watson, said Tiller has agreed to comply with the subpoena issued in Texas. Kline declined to release a copy, saying the subpoena is not a public record under Texas law.

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