Archive for Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Court blocks grand jury’s access to abortion provider’s records

February 5, 2008


— (AP) - The Kansas Supreme Court temporarily blocked a Sedgwick County grand jury's access Tuesday to patient records from abortion provider Dr. George Tiller.

The grand jury is investigating whether Tiller, one of the nation's few late-term abortion providers, has broken Kansas laws restricting abortion, as many abortion opponents allege. The grand jury subpoenaed the medical files of about 2,000 women, including some who decided against having abortions.

The grand jury also subpoenaed information about current and former employees and referring physicians.

Tiller's attorneys asked the Supreme Court to quash the grand jury's three subpoenas, and the court agreed to block their enforcement until it considers the issue.

The court set a Feb. 11 deadline for retired District Judge Paul Buchanan, who is presiding over the grand jury's investigation, and Judge Michael Corrigan, the county's chief judge, to file any objection to the court's action. The judges then have until Feb. 25 to file their answer to Tiller's legal challenge.

The Sedgwick County prosecutor presenting evidence to the grand jury had objected to the attempts to block the subpoenas, noting that the grand jury's term is limited. But in the Supreme Court's two-page order, Chief Justice Kay McFarland noted that the grand jury's term can be extended.

McFarland also said Tiller's challenge raises "significant issues" about patients' privacy and a grand jury's power to subpoena records.

"We are pleased," said Lee Thompson, an attorney representing Tiller. "The Supreme Court has recognized very significant issues regarding privacy protection are at stake and is willing to give us more time to assess that."

Abortion opponents forced Sedgwick County to convene the grand jury by submitting petitions.

"That is extremely disappointing that they are getting involved," said Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, the state's largest anti-abortion group.

"There is no way to determine if the reasons for these late abortions were done within the narrow legal criteria without looking at the records themselves," she said. "His lawyers say they are worried about women's privacy. They are worried about protecting Dr. Tiller."

Tiller's clinic has not started handing over patient records. The edited patient records would not have the women's names, but they would have patient-identification numbers. Tiller's attorneys claimed in court last week that in an earlier investigation, former Attorney General Phill Kline was able to track down patients' names using the identifying numbers on patients' files.

A spokesman for Kline, who is now Johnson County district attorney, denied that any patients had ever been identified.

Tiller's attorneys told Buchanan that if Kline could use that information to identify patients, then someone else could as well.

Kline eventually filed 30 misdemeanor charges against Tiller before leaving office last year, only to see the case dismissed for jurisdictional reasons.

The grand jury is seeking all health care records of patients who aborted a fetus determined to be 22 weeks or older from July 1, 2003, through Jan. 18 at Tiller's clinic, Women's Health Care Services. The grand jury also wants the health care records of patients who did not have abortions but were at least 22 weeks pregnant when they consulted with a physician at the clinic.


SettingTheRecordStraight 10 years, 2 months ago

Anything to protect the imagined "right" to kill a developing child, right KS Supreme Court?


ronwell_dobbs 10 years, 2 months ago

"That is extremely disappointing that they are getting involved," said Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life"

Troubling that the Court would get involved? I don't follow.

absolutelyridiculous 10 years, 2 months ago

I'm with ronwell_dobbs. In context (or lack thereof), Mary Kay's comment is NOT clear...poor writing and lack of editing. Hello? Anyone at the LJWorld come into work today?

stuckinthemiddle 10 years, 2 months ago

This is an important issue, as the right to not have the government prying into your personal life and medical information (a right to privacy) was key to the ruling in Roe v Wade...
If it is decided by the courts that it's the government's business to know who has had an abortion, the foundation of Roe v Wade will be gone...

absolutelyridiculous 10 years, 2 months ago

stuck...privacy and Roe v Wade are two separate issues. According to HIPPA, if there is unlawful action, then there are measures in place to protect those involved. Let's have some trust that the system will work as it was designed and that the law will be upheld. Unless you are of the thinking that the law is flawed because you don't think you'll like the outcome.

Justice prevail.

stuckinthemiddle 10 years, 2 months ago

absolutelyridiculous The right to privacy can't be separated from Roe v Wade... it is a key element written in the Court's majority opinion on Roe...

And I don't think that the law is flawed: it's only logical that the right to choose is founded in personal privacy:

1029 10 years, 2 months ago

all these murdered babies could have made up one hell of an army. we could have taken over the world by now and converted everyone to christianity. not to mention all the tax revenue that has been lost. women need to stop thinking of themselves and realize that babies come first. sorry if your life is going to be ruined forever, but you chose to be pregnant in the first place.

ronwell_dobbs 10 years, 2 months ago

My confusion was because the RTL folks decided to use the law to force an issue into the Courts and yet is surprised that the Court "infrastructure" would want to weigh in on the issue.

1029 10 years, 2 months ago

It only makes sense that one would have to be an idiot to be the executive director of a group such as "Kansans for Life". It should be "Kansans who hate the greater well-being of society and want to impose their personal opinions on others because they believe in myths that were created by primitive people thousands of years ago"

Chris Golledge 10 years, 2 months ago

Ah, I should resist, but...

Wow, lol, is 1029 serious?

"all these murdered babies could have made up one hell of an army. "

So, all babies born from pregnancies that would otherwise have been aborted should be forced to join the military?

"we could have taken over the world by now and converted everyone to christianity."

Hmm, the mission of the US(we?) is to take over the world and convert everyone to Christianity? That would be a good thing? Maybe we should first re-write the constitution to make it more like the Islamic state constitutions, you know, where women can't vote, minorities have fewer rights, etc., only Christian instead.

" not to mention all the tax revenue that has been lost. "

Aha, babies are for generating tax revenue. I knew they were good for something. :-p But, I don't quite get the connection between tax revenue and babies. Will all babies be provided jobs? Does that mean that there is no unemployment today, but in fact, a job surplus? Oh, I get it, there'll be some sort of affirmative action plan where employers are encouraged to hire these babies in preference to others.

manbearpig 10 years, 2 months ago


The Bible says some pretty surprising and bizarre things sometimes, but I wasn't aware of any section requiring abortions of adulterers. Could you refer me to the chapter and verse? I'd like to research that one, as it could be a sticking point for a lot of people.

sdinges 10 years, 2 months ago

DirtyLinen: "What next : an investigation of possible improper conduct by a psychiatrist leading to all records of thousands of patients that psychiatrist ever treated being made available to a grand jury?"

Also information about all former employees of that psychiatrist, any doctor who referred someone to the psychiatrist, and the records of psych patients who ultimately chose another psychiatrist, or no psychiatric treatment.

Any suggestions that Tiller is "buying" the Kansas Supreme Court, or the judge in charge of this case are fairly ridiculous and seem to be the product of paranoia. Tiller is using the legal process to delay and/or dismiss the case against him in the same way that Pro-Life advocates are using the legal process to pursue an investigation and case against him. Fair is fair. They both get to play dirty within the confines of that system.

I admit, my outrage over this case has died down and transformed into pure curiosity to see where this legal circus will go next. It seems as though there's a new side show every week! It's even a little fun.

"That is extremely disappointing that they are getting involved," said Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, the state's largest anti-abortion group.

This quote is too funny. Can it possibly be real? Was it immediately followed by her putting her hand over her mouth and then saying "Oops, did I say that out loud?!"

Kathy Theis-Getto 10 years, 2 months ago

Hate to do it, but I must. To quote a fellow poster who shall remain nameless.

"Told you so."

kansanjayhawk 10 years, 2 months ago

Hopefully justice will be done and Tiller and his money will not continue to distort the legal process in Kansas. It is unbelievable how much money the abortion industry has to buy politicians and judges!

John_Brown 10 years, 2 months ago

beobachter, I signed the petition. So did Mrs 'Brown'. We would enjoy it if Dr Tiller attempted to sue us. We have the ability to defend ourselves, too. Our signatures do not reflect the opinions of KFL, operation rescue, etc etc. They are our beliefs and ours alone. Perhaps the Ks Supreme Court should revoke our right to petition a grand jury (a right granted by the Legislature). It would not be the first time jurists in this country added or removed rights at a whim w/out any input from the People. Like in 1972. Or 1856. If you want to live in an oligarchy made up of lawyers, be my guest. I'll stick w/ the Republic we have.

Ralph Reed 10 years, 2 months ago

right_thinker (Anonymous) writes: "BO, you don't stop because you likely have warrants for your arrest. Your paranoia is, in this case, probably a good thing. Otherwise, the loon factor is in hyperdrive tonight"

Typical example of the ad hominem attacks found in the LJW (Award Winning) Online Forum.

rt - from what I read above, most of the "loons" seem to come from your side of the fence.

Most of the comments above show little ability to appreciate one thing. The judicial system still works. Be glad of that fact. We would be in more trouble than we already are if it didn't.

My opinion of this whole sordid mess is that it is in fact a witch hunt. One that was started by an AG that I personally do not trust even now. That's not to say I trusted his successor either, so don't go there. I don't like witch hunts, because usually some gets hung, stoned, pressed to death or in the rare case burned at the stake. This does nobody any good, except to offer a sacrifice to the people; similar to a judas goat.

This is an emotion-charged issue that has no right or wrong, and given the society on the LJW Forums, will never have a middle ground.

Take a look at this clip. I think it's a fairly accurate picture of what's going on.


I'm me. Who are you behind your hood of anonymity?

Katara 10 years, 2 months ago

DL, excellent posts. What some of these people don't realize is that it opens the door to eliminating any expectation of privacy in regards to one's medical records. I wonder how many truly understand what a violation that is.

I, too, am curious why the records of the women who chose not to have an abortion were requested as well? I would think that could come back to bite the butts of those who are pushing this Grand Jury.

Poetic justice would be a Grand Jury convening to investigate abuses of the Grand Jury law by KFL, Operation Rescue, etc. Do those groups really want the spotlight on all of their activities?

georgeofwesternkansas 10 years, 2 months ago

I thought this issue was dead when Paul took over. Was it not true that Phil was the driver behind the issue??

Ralph Reed 10 years, 2 months ago

DL Your 2108 is an excellent post. Well said. (

right_thinker (Anonymous) writes: "Again, leftists don't like laws that don't favor their objectives."

Yet, whenever there's a law you and several others seem to rise up against it en mass. Take the law that abortion is currently legal; you and others have demonstrated numerous times that you don't like the law. Now, by your definition, that makes you a leftist. Interesting.

"Strangely, we need these leftists, some who even try to disguise themselves as centrists, typically radical centrists, in order to serve as a barometer of the wrongs of America."

Thank you rt, didn't know you still cared.

Reality â I believe beliefs matter: Truth is absolute Knowledge is relative Value is complex

absolutelyridiculous (Anonymous) writes: "In context (or lack thereof), Mary Kay's comment is NOT clear:poor writing and lack of editing."

Her comment is not clear, but not due to writing or editing. It's a quote. So it probably demonstrates lack of practice in or ability to respond to unexpected questions.

I'm me. Who are you behind your hood of anonymity?

Ralph Reed 10 years, 2 months ago

manbearpig (Anonymous) says: "The Bible says some pretty surprising and bizarre things sometimes, ... abortions of adulterers ... Could you refer me to the chapter and verse?"

Try going to this site, it's an excellent resource. You can research multiple versions in several languages.

americorps (Anonymous) writes: "Numbers 5:27 This passage describes a priest administering a potion to a suspected adulterous woman who, if guilty, miscarries her baby and is cast out of the community."

I just looked at the KJ Bible, and I don't get that interpretation. It's focused on the husband taking his wife to the priest out of jealousy. The entire Numbers 5 gives a different read. At least to me.

That strikes me as one major problem. All too often, religions will take one verse or passage, maybe just a few lines at most, and through select interpretation build an entire set of canon or secular laws from it. The justification is, "It's in the Bible, Koran, Torrah or (fill in your favorite religious document here). That's a huge stretch in my opinion.

In fact, as discussed in the context of this article, abortion is not mentioned in several English Language versions of the Bible. This leads me to the conclusion that abortion has become religious belief. It is not even canon law. Secular laws have been built from that belief. hmmm

right_thinker (Anonymous) writes: "But the fact remains, it is the system working through-with no Foulston-no Judge Clark-no Kline-no Morrison-but where it goes, is anyones guess."

rt - As you know I seldom agree with what you say, and even less with how you usually say it. However, the above quote from your 0447 post puts everything in excellent perspective. Good post.

a_flock_of_jayhawks 10 years, 2 months ago

right_thinker (Anonymous) says:

"Granted, the law is their for Tiller to use in his favor just the same."

Correct. A problem, though, for anyone that tries to wield any provision of the law in a capricious manner is that future attempts to do the same will cause the judges to react in quite a different way than they are on this occasion. At that point, they will likely feel that the provision is being abused and will impose sanctions on the offending party. At the moment, it appears that the judge is giving them the benefit of the doubt, whether deserved or not, so as to clearly demonstrate impartiality despite (and possibly due to) the claims of the initiating party of prejudice.

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