Topeka — Democrat Paul Morrison said Tuesday that if elected attorney general he would end an investigation into two abortion clinics and instead commit the office's resources to other uses, such as prosecuting domestic violence.
Morrison faces Atty. Gen. Phill Kline, a Republican, in the Nov. 7 general election.
Kline's campaign criticized Morrison for his comments on the abortion clinic probe and said Kline had done a good job raising awareness of domestic violence.
During a news conference, Morrison vowed to establish a domestic violence unit in the attorney general's office patterned after one he started in Johnson County, where he has been district attorney for 17 years.
Citing a study that showed the effectiveness of the Johnson County program, Morrison said: "It's a wonderful thing to be able to say that there are people in your communities that are walking around alive today who would be dead if it were not for these kinds of programs."
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The proposed domestic violence program in the attorney general's office would assist counties with prosecution of domestic violence cases, coordinate law enforcement training and provide victims with support, he said.
Morrison was backed by Ann Whedon Altermann of Overland Park, who in 1992 was shot by her estranged husband. The man was prosecuted by Morrison and sentenced to a minimum 23 years in prison.
"Paul Morrison is a criminal's worst nightmare," Altermann said.
Morrison said a domestic violence unit could be developed at no additional expense by redirecting resources in the attorney general's office.
"Some of the money that's been used on misplaced priorities could easily fund" the effort, he said.
As an example of a misplaced priority, Morrison noted Kline's inquisition into clinics operated by Dr. George Tiller in Wichita and Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri in Overland Park.
As part of the probe, Kline, an ardent opponent of abortion, has sought medical records of women and minors, saying that he is investigating allegations of child rape and illegal abortions.
Morrison said inquisitions are a common tool used by prosecutors, but he added, "We don't use them for fishing expeditions so that we can thumb through medical records and find out who has what procedure done to them.
"And we sure don't do it under the guise of reported child-rape investigation. We're not going to use them for that," he said.
Sherriene Jones, a spokeswoman for Kline, said it was "disheartening that an attorney general would turn his or her back to a child that has been sexually molested or raped."
Morrison has noted no charges have resulted from the investigation.
Jones also said Kline had made raising awareness about domestic violence and prosecuting abusers a top priority. For example, she cited Kline's statewide effort to promote a program where beauty salon workers report signs of abuse on their customers.
In addition, the office distributes grants aimed at stopping domestic violence, and its attorneys routinely help prosecute cases, she said.
Jones said that Morrison is "taking things that are already happening in the attorney general's office and repackaging them."