Topeka Two abortion clinics are asking the Kansas Supreme Court to cite Atty. Gen. Phill Kline for contempt, accusing him of violating judicial orders in a case involving his attempts to gain access to their patient records.
The Supreme Court has scheduled arguments for 1:30 p.m. Thursday on whether the clinics should be forced to turn over 90 patients' records to a Shawnee County judge so Kline's office can review them. The court also has said it will consider whether Kline should be held in contempt.
Such a finding would be unprecedented.
The records Kline seeks are for patients of Dr. George Tiller's clinic in Wichita and one in Overland Park operated by Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri.
Both Planned Parenthood and abortion opponents had Statehouse news conferences Thursday to bolster public support.
Kline and abortion
- Recent stories on Kline and abortion:
- Sebelius seeks to dismiss abortion suit (10-20-05)
- Child-sex investigation takes turn (10-19-05)
- Kline: Judge must see women's names (09-16-05)
- Records case raises privacy concerns (09-14-05)
- Kline probe goes beyond abortions (09-09-05)
- Abortion opponents dispute claims about patient privacy (09-08-05)
- On the Street: When do you think human life begins? (08-19-05)
- Kline sues Sebelius to end state-funded abortion (08-19-05)
- Kline's clinic probe linked to abortion foe (04-18-05)
- Kline's motives under fire nationally (03-24-05)
- Court lifts abortion gag order; Kline irate (03-11-05)
- Kline finds home in spotlight (03-06-05)
- A.G. releases information despite gag order (03-04-05)
- A.G. wants to search abortion records (02-25-05)
- Kline dismisses abortion lawyer (08-29-04)
- Kline issues funds to pregnancy clinics (07-01-04)
- Kline seeks abortion clinic regulations (04-29-04)
- More on the abortion controversy in Kansas »
Kline, an abortion opponent, has said he needs the records to investigate child rapes and abortions that potentially violate a state law restricting procedures after a fetus can survive outside the womb.
He has said repeatedly the patients are not targeted.
But the clinics contend he is on a fishing expedition and that his efforts will jeopardize patients' privacy.
At Kline's request, Shawnee County District Judge Richard Anderson subpoenaed the records last year. The clinics then asked the Supreme Court to block the subpoenas or narrow them.
Peter Brownlie, Planned Parenthood's chief executive officer, declined to discuss the clinics' request for Kline to be cited for contempt of court because most documents associated with the case remain under seal.
In March, the clinics said Kline had violated a gag order, first imposed by Anderson, by discussing his investigation publicly and by including a transcript of a court hearing last year with a legal brief his office filed with the Supreme Court.
"The attorney general is the chief law enforcement officer of the state," Brownlie told reporters Thursday. "He - as with other officials of the state, law enforcement officials - needs to be trusted to follow court orders."
But spokesman Whitney Watson noted that Kline's investigation became public in February - when the clinics filed a legal brief with the Supreme Court.