Topeka An investigation into two abortion clinics has widened and led to prosecutions, according to Atty. Gen. Phill Kline.
But attorneys for the clinics say they are baffled by Kline's pronouncements. Their clients have done nothing wrong, they say, and add that Kline needs to watch what he says in light of orders from the Kansas Supreme Court to stay tight-lipped about the probe.
"It is inappropriate for any attorney involved in this process to use the process with the media as a way of gaining attention," said attorney Pedro Irigonegaray, of Topeka.
Kline's campaign, however, defended Kline making statements related to the inquisition.
"Everything that the attorney general has stated is part of the public record," said his campaign spokeswoman, Sherriene Jones. "You just need to know where to look."
The case file, however, has been sealed by the district court.
Live birth cases?
While most reports of the investigation have focused on Kline's attempt to get medical records of women and girls who had abortions, Kline emphasized to reporters recently that the probe also includes the records of live births.
"The inquisition is broader than what you guys know about," Kline said.
The war of words has escalated amid a rough campaign between Kline and Democrat Paul Morrison about an investigation that has gained national attention and been argued before the Kansas Supreme Court.
In September 2004, Shawnee County District Court Judge Richard Anderson subpoenaed 90 records at Kline's request from clinics operated by George Tiller, a Wichita doctor who performs abortions, and Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri. The secret inquisition was made public when the clinics asked the Kansas Supreme Court to block the subpoenas.
Kline said he was investigating allegations of child rape and illegal late-term abortions. The clinics accused Kline, an ardent opponent of abortion, of going on a fishing expedition and trying to intimidate women from getting abortions.
The Supreme Court sent the case back to Anderson, directing him to ensure that patients' privacy rights are maintained before the medical records can be reviewed.
Kline's political challenger, Morrison, has said the investigation is an example of Kline using the office to advance his own political agenda. Morrison frequently states that investigation has produced no criminal prosecutions.
But in a debate last week in Lawrence, Kline said prosecutions have resulted from the inquisition. He promised an update, but was not specific on when.
On Thursday, Kline said the inquisition has led to criminal referrals of cases in Illinois, New York, Missouri and six Kansas counties.
But Jones said Kline will not reveal further details.
"He is not drawing attention to a particular case. These are cases about child rape. To bring attention where this case took place, it could be in a small community where everyone knows everybody. He will not release that information in order to prove a point," she said.
Irigonegaray, who represents both clinics, and attorney Lee Thompson, who represents Tiller's clinic, said there have been no prosecutions involving their clients.
The attorneys also noted that the state Supreme Court has told everyone involved in the legal battle to keep quiet.
The clinics had earlier wanted Kline held in contempt of court for releasing information about the investigation.
The court declined, though it noted Kline's "initial defiant tone" and warned all attorneys in the case to hold their tongues because of the publicity surrounding the case.
"We caution all parties to resist any impulse to further publicize their respective legal positions, which may imperil the privacy of the patients and the law enforcement objectives at the heart of this proceeding," the court said.
Anderson's office said there was nothing in the case before Anderson that could be viewed publicly.
But Jones maintains that since Kline has not focused on details of the cases, he has abided by the court's directives.