Archive for Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Morrison: No wrongdoing found at Planned Parenthood clinic

AG’s decision on Tiller expected this week

June 27, 2007


— An investigation by Attorney General Paul Morrison of a Planned Parenthood clinic here that performs abortions found no violations of Kansas law.

"Our investigation is now complete, and we have found no evidence of any criminal wrongdoing by your client," Morrison wrote Tuesday in a one-page letter to the group's attorney. "As a result, we will not be filing any charges against your client."

Planned Parenthood officials released the letter during a news conference. Peter Brownlie, its chief executive officer, said the letter confirmed what he has said repeatedly: that Planned Parenthood provides high-quality medical care and complies with Kansas law.

'Fishing expedition'

The investigation began under Morrison's predecessor, Phill Kline. Morrison, an abortion rights Democrat, defeated Kline, an anti-abortion Republican, in the November election and replaced Kline on Jan. 8.

"From the beginning, we've also said that Mr. Kline's investigation of Planned Parenthood was nothing more and nothing less than a fishing expedition conducted for a political agenda," Brownlie said.

Kline had waged a successful legal fight for more than two years to obtain information from the records of 90 patients at the Planned Parenthood clinic and another operated in Wichita by Dr. George Tiller, one of the few U.S. physicians performing late-term abortions.

A Shawnee County judge subpoenaed the patient records at Kline's request in September 2004, concluding there was probable cause to believe they could contain evidence of potential crimes. The clinics argued that turning over the records would violate patient privacy and appealed to the Supreme Court.

The court criticized Kline in its February 2006 decision, but it sent the case back to Shawnee County with guidelines on how the records were to be handled. In October, the judge turned over edited copies of the records to Kline - after Morrison made Kline's pursuit of them a major issue.

Kline didn't take action against Planned Parenthood, but in December he filed 30 misdemeanor charges against Tiller, alleging that Tiller had performed illegal late-term abortions in 2003. A judge in Sedgwick County dismissed that case for jurisdictional reasons.

When Morrison took office, he began his own investigation of both Tiller and Planned Parenthood. He plans to announce Thursday or Friday whether he will charge Tiller.

Spokeswoman Ashley Anstaett said Morrison sent a letter to Planned Parenthood because he thought its officials should know that the investigation was done. Also, she said, a judge in Shawnee County still has the patients' records.

"We are going to attempt to get those back to them," Anstaett said.

'Fully anticipated'

Kline said repeatedly last year that he was investigating sex crimes against children, not just whether abortion doctors had violated abortion laws or failed to report suspected instances. Anstaett said Morrison's "thorough, objective and unbiased" review found no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood.

Kline said he wasn't surprised by the announcement, saying, "Paul's actions were predicted months ago and fully anticipated."

When he left the attorney general's office, Kline became district attorney in Johnson County, where Planned Parenthood's clinic is located. After Kline got the county job, abortion rights supporters suggested he would continue investigating.

Kline declined to comment on whether he is investigating.

However, Morrison ended his letter by noting that Kline, three days before he left the attorney general's office, forwarded copies of edited patient records to the district attorney's office.

"Of course, be advised that Mr. Kline retains a copy of those records," Morrison wrote.

While he said Kline has been "zealously pursuing an agenda for many years," Brownlie said Planned Parenthood has not heard anything from the district attorney's office.

"I certainly expect and hope that the letter from Mr. Morrison, as clear and unambiguous as it is, will deter Mr. Kline," Brownlie said.


jenniferjeanne 10 years, 8 months ago

First, why is Paul Morrison "abortion rights" while Phill Kline is "anti-abortion"? The media consistently uses positive labels for abortion supporters and negative labels for those who support the right to life for the unborn. Be objective. If Paul Morrison is "abortion rights" then Phill Kline should be "right to life." If Phill Kline is "anti-abortion," then Paul Morrison should be "pro-abortion" (or strictly speaking, "anti-right to life for the unborn").

Second, Brownlie's comments about Kline's "agenda" should be balanced by quotes pointing out Planned Parenthood's agenda--preserving the unique buffer zone around their multi-million dollar a year "non-profit" business. They pulled in excess revenue (otherwise known as profit) of over $300 MILLION last year, even though their actual abortion income had declined. How? Taxpayer money. If that's not a political agenda, I've never heard one.

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