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Archive for Wednesday, November 1, 2006

Kline says office received abortion records a week ago

November 1, 2006

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Atty. Gen. Phill Kline said Tuesday night that his office has received the records of 90 patients from two abortion clinics and is reviewing them for possible crimes.

Kline said the crimes could include rape of a child and potentially illegal late-term abortions - two matters he has repeatedly discussed in public.

But they also could include incest, forcible rape and making a "false writing," Kline told The Associated Press without elaborating.

Kline's office received edited copies of the records a week ago, a legal victory for him in a two-year dispute that has brought him national attention and criticism from abortion rights groups. His battle with the clinics went from district court to the Kansas Supreme Court and back to district court.

"They're being reviewed by criminal investigators and criminal prosecutors in this office," Kline said of the records.

But Pedro Irigonegaray, an attorney for one of the clinics, operated in Overland Park by Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, said the records don't show any wrongdoing by the clinics.

While Kline has said patients' privacy always has been respected, Irigonegaray responded that had the clinics not fought Kline, his access to the records would have been unfettered.

"What he now has in his hands are facts regarding procedures, not identifications of individuals receiving those procedures," Irigonegaray said in an interview. "Those facts do not justify Mr. Kline's involvement in any further criminal action - none whatsoever."

The attorney general's disclosure came a week before the Nov. 7 general election, with Kline in a difficult race with Johnson County Dist. Atty. Paul Morrison. The Democrat has made Kline's pursuit of the records a key issue in his campaign, even suggesting Kline's efforts represent an abuse of power.

Kline opposes abortion, which has led abortion rights supporters to argue he's on a fishing expedition designed to ensnare the clinics. Morrison supports abortion rights.

Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, the state's largest anti-abortion group, said the dispute has been blown out of proportion by the clinics because Kline is simply trying to enforce Kansas law.

"What few laws we have, there needs to be an attempt to enforce them, or why do we even have them?" Culp said, referring to restrictions on abortion. "If he doesn't attempt to enforce abortion laws, who else is going to?"

Kline's dispute has been with Planned Parenthood's clinic and one in Wichita operated by Dr. George Tiller. The clinics argued that giving the attorney general access to the records would invade patients' privacy.

Kline said the records were turned over Oct. 24 by Shawnee County District Judge Richard Anderson, who had possessed them since August. Kline said the records were redacted so that individual patients could not be identified.

The attorney general said he still could seek the names of victims of child rape to build cases against the perpetrators, but won't seek the name if an adult patient is involved.

"We don't have it, nor do I want it," Kline said. "I've never sought it."

Irigonegaray said Kline would have seen unedited files if the clinics had not objected to the attorney general's efforts early on.

Lee Thompson, a Wichita attorney representing Tiller, added, "That's a matter of public record."

Irigonegaray said he wants to send a signal to the patients and their families, "I will not rest and none of us involved in this case will rest until we are sure the threat to their privacy has been eliminated."

However, Anderson wrote in an October 2004 order in the case that Kline was aware of "the need to conduct the investigation in the least intrusive manner to the privacy interests of patients."

Kline said the targets of his investigation are rapists, sex offenders with child victims and doctors involved in abortions.

The doctors could include physicians performing abortions, providing a second opinion for late-term abortions or failing to report abuse of a child. They would not include patients' family doctors who were not involved in the abortions, he said.

Irigonegaray said, "Nothing whatsoever in those records supports the proposition that our clients have violated the law."

State law says that if the fetus is 22 weeks or older and viable, a woman's or girl's life must be in danger or she must face permanent damage to "a major bodily function" to obtain an abortion. However, a procedure the law calls "partial-birth abortion" is permitted to preserve a woman's physical or mental health.

Also, the doctor performing the abortion must obtain a second opinion from an independent physician, and the reasons for the procedure must be stated in writing and reported to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

Culp said the clinics wanted to stall Kline's investigation until, they hoped, he lost his bid for re-election.

"What's frightening is that it's been working to a certain extent, as far as public opinion is concerned," Culp said.

Morrison has attacked Kline's efforts in a television commercial, suggesting Kline wants to put personal medical information in government hands.

Two groups have done anti-Kline mailings on the topic, spending more than $225,000. One of them received nearly $96,000 from a political action committee linked to Tiller.

Kline's comments represented the most detailed statements he has made about his ongoing investigation.

When asked to comment on the strength of the evidence contained in the records, he said only: "If there was not a reason for this investigation to continue, it would cease. The investigation is continuing."

But Thompson said Tiller's records have been reviewed in the past by both a Sedgwick County grand jury and the State Board of Healing Arts, which licenses doctors, without findings of wrongdoing.

"We have always indicated that our clients are innocent of any wrongdoing," Thompson said.

Anderson subpoenaed the records at Kline's request in September 2004, concluding he had probable cause to believe they may have contained evidence of crimes. The clinics later asked the Supreme Court to intervene.

While Anderson didn't give Kline unfettered access to the records, the Supreme Court imposed new guidelines for having them reviewed and edited before they were turned over to the district court. Under that process, neither Kline nor the judge saw the names of the patients involved.

Comments

Larry Bauerle 8 years, 4 months ago

Even as a conservative Christian, I find the thought of medical records being accessed by the government a potential nightmare. Even if you do believe that in this particular case this is justified, how and where this would end is what concerns me. Who is going to draw the line, Phil Kline?

BigDog 8 years, 4 months ago

If it is suspected that abortion doctors or any doctor may not be reporting what could be a crime (child abuse, child rape) then who does investigate it and how?

justthefacts 8 years, 4 months ago

Answer to who is going to oversee ANY prosecutor's (or party's) access to any private records; the court/judges.

Any party in a case where the medical condition of someone is an issue, civil or criminal, (e.g. malpractice, battery, slip & fall, insurance fraud etc.) may have a need for medical records as part of evidence needed in the case. Private medical records are routinely subpoenaed and made part of the record, and judges/courts are very aware of privacy concerns and so have many options allowing them to grant access yet still protect the information and names of private persons who are not actual parties to a case.

Verbatim from article: "Anderson didn't give Kline unfettered access to the records, the Supreme Court imposed new guidelines for having them reviewed and edited before they were turned over to the district court. Under that process, neither Kline nor the judge saw the names of the patients involved."

Baille 8 years, 4 months ago

Kline got the records in their redacted form, which is just fine assuming all the other requirements for the issuance of a subpoena were present.

If he would have been more reasonable in his pursuit of these records and initially accepted them in their redacted form, the state of Kansas would have avoided the expense of unnecessary litigation surrounding their production and Kline may have been able to avoid being singled out by the Kansas Supreme Court for acting unethically.

oldgoof 8 years, 4 months ago

. Orwell was right. He just didn't know people would be invoking the Bible, religion, and sex and abortion to justify their actions.. . Kline is scary. Always has been. People are starting to figure it out this year.

dirkleisure 8 years, 4 months ago

Medical records are not a tool for crime detection.

They are a tool to investigate a crime. The AG is using medical records to blindly search for a crime. That is the equivilent of him getting your credit card records and searching for inappropriate spending.

Big government at its worst, brought to you by Phill Kline.

Thanks.

Godot 8 years, 4 months ago

If the records were private, and the court had control of them, how does Irigonegary know what is in them? Did he have special permission to view the records of the Tillerman clinic that he does not represent?

Porter 8 years, 4 months ago

10 to 1 odds that there is an arrest made this week using these records as evidence.

I'll wager 20 to 1 that we don't ever see a conviction.

rhd99 8 years, 4 months ago

I said it before & I'll say it again, GET LOST, KLINE! Beat it, & keep the change you bumb!

ranger73 8 years, 4 months ago

If Kline can't prosecute (sic-sorry) a single tow-company for outrageous towing charges, what makes him think he can go up against a large organization like Planned Parenthood?

MyName 8 years, 4 months ago

Phill Kline is disliked because he seeks to limit disordered liberal behavior.

People are disgusted with Phill Kline because he doesn't know the difference between doing his job, which is to prosecute reported crimes, and pandering to his political base!

Linda Endicott 8 years, 4 months ago

He's reviewing them for possible crimes?

Excuse me, but isn't it usually the course of action to have a crime happen first, and THEN investigate it?

This is just a phishing expedition, and worthy of Phred Phelps.

I don't think you'll have to worry about those records anymore after next week, Mr. Kline.

Shame on you.

rhd99 8 years, 4 months ago

PHILL KLINE'S record of PRIVACY INVASION is an UN-AMERICAN as it comes. This stinken traitor will be remembered, whether or not he gets elected next Tuesday as the WORST ATTORNEY GENERAL we have EVER had in KANSAS! Take your policies, KLINE & SHOVE IT, you BUFFOON! Take your ABORTION hatred & STUFF IT! Beat it, LOSER! You know something folks, I say BRAVO to that one County Sheriff for pulling out his endorsement of KLINE! That sheriff represents TRUE LAW ENFORCEMENT, NOT illegal FISHING EXPEDITIONS based on CROOKED political IDEALS!

rhd99 8 years, 4 months ago

By the way, fellow registered voters of Kansas, I don't care what party you affiliate with, if you care about people's privacy & safety, VOTE KLINE OUT! GET out there, KANSAS VOTE & give this ILLEGITIMATE ATTORNEY GENERAL the BOOT!

justthefacts 8 years, 4 months ago

"Excuse me, but isn't it usually the course of action to have a crime happen first, and THEN investigate it?"

Yes...but all too often the persons who have committed (or are still committing the crime) HIDE IT...so the investigators who suspect the commission of a crime must dig for enough evidence to proceed.

Don't you watch CSI on TV? LOL.

willie_wildcat 8 years, 4 months ago

Wow when I thought Kline could not go any lower....I hope this is the final nail in the coffin that is his political career. I about fell over when I read this...Kansas I hope that you see through this charlatan and kick him out Tuesday!

lildos 8 years, 4 months ago

Not only Patriotman is irrational, I believe he is high...what does all that jibber jabber have to do with real political issues and real life for that matter? actually, looking back, thanks man, because all this stuff up there is pretty funny...but you have to be high to come up with this stuff!

Linda Endicott 8 years, 4 months ago

I know you were trying to be funny, justthefacts...but CSI is a myth, you know...

How do you get a warrant for medical records without probable cause? And how do you have probable cause without a crime first?

At least he doesn't get the names of the patients. Not unless he uncovers something, which I think is very unlikely. Then he can ask for the names.

This would be like your neighbor calling the police to say he thinks your car has been stolen, because he hasn't seen it outside your house for over a week.

"Police: isn't it possible he's been on vacation somewhere, and has the car with him?

Neighbor: well, yes, but a crime may have been committed. You'd better go search the place, without a warrant.

Police: isn't it possible he has the car in his garage, and you just don't see when he leaves with it?

Neighbor: well, yes, but a crime may have been committed. You'd better go search the place, without a warrant.

Police: isn't it possible that he loaned his car to a friend or family member?

Neighbor: well, yes, but a crime may have been committed. You'd better go search the place, without a warrant.

Police: isn't it possible that nothing is really wrong, and you should mind your own business?

Neighbor: well, yes, but a crime may have been committed. You'd better go search the place, without a warrant."

The police couldn't do something like this, just because of one busybody, and Kline shouldn't be allowed to, either.

Linda Endicott 8 years, 4 months ago

Oh, yes, all moral and righteous people yell at others, call them names, badger others about their opinions, and accuse others of stalking or defamation of character. Then they go stand by the cliff waiting for the pat on the back from God.

They'll be fortunate if God doesn't just knock them off the cliff.

You know, don't you, that the Bible says that most people who think they're righteous are not?

Sanctimoneous prigs.

Katara 8 years, 4 months ago

That is a hilarious post (6:57 p.m), crazyks!

Cait McKnelly 8 years, 4 months ago

I think what gets to me is that so far a grand jury and several judges have all seen these records and have found "no evidence of wrongdoing". And he STILL got them.

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