Olathe Representatives for Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri made their first court appearance Friday concerning a criminal complaint alleging unlawful late-term abortions and inadequate record keeping at an Overland Park clinic.
The appearance lasted just minutes and another hearing was set for Wednesday. Johnson County District Attorney Phill Kline, who filed the 107-count complaint last month against the Comprehensive Health clinic, declined comment Friday.
Planned Parenthood officials and their attorney, Pedro Irigonegaray, also did not speak to reporters. But Peter Brownlie, Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri president and chief executive officer, said in a written statement that the charges are baseless.
"This is a blatant attempt to put Planned Parenthood on political trial for providing legal, safe and professional reproductive health care," Brownlie said. "We will not stand by and allow politicians to intimidate women and create more barriers to their ability to get health care."
Brownlie said it's the first time the organization has faced criminal charges.
Kline has asked for Irigonegaray and another Planned Parenthood attorney, Robert Eye, to be barred from representing the organization in the criminal case. Kline has said he intends to call the lawyers as witnesses. A hearing hasn't been held on that matter yet.
Kline, an anti-abortion Republican, started investigating Planned Parenthood in 2003 when he was Kansas attorney general. After a court battle, he eventually gained access to the Overland Park clinic's patient medical records.
Democrat Paul Morrison, the former Johnson County district attorney who defeated Kline last year and became attorney general, reviewed the records that Kline obtained and found no wrongdoing on Planned Parenthood's part.
"We fully expect the same result by the time this charade is over," Brownlie said in his statement Friday.
The charges against Planned Parenthood weren't read in court, but they consist of 23 felonies and 84 misdemeanors, according to the complaint. Among them are 29 misdemeanor counts of providing unlawful late-term abortions.
Adding to the clash is a lawsuit before the Kansas Supreme Court involving Kline, Morrison and Planned Parenthood. Neither Kline nor Planned Parenthood has discussed that case, and the documents are sealed.