Topeka Attorney General Stephen Six is resisting a subpoena from a Sedgwick County grand jury investigating abortion provider Dr. George Tiller.
Six asked the Kansas Supreme Court on Friday to quash the subpoena or at least temporarily block its enforcement. The grand jury demanded the records of 60 patients from Tiller's clinic in Wichita, which the attorney general's office had obtained as part of an earlier investigation.
Attorneys for Tiller, one of the few U.S. physicians who performs late-term abortions, already have asked the Supreme Court to block three other subpoenas that the doctor received from the grand jury. One of them seeks the records of about 2,000 patients from Tiller's clinic.
The Supreme Court ruled last week that the subpoenas to Tiller couldn't be enforced until the justices decide whether to quash them. The court said Tiller's legal challenge raised "significant issues" about the grand jury's authority and patients' privacy.
Six said the records sought from his office are covered by the subpoenas the grand jury served on Tiller - and therefore are covered by the Supreme Court's order. He also questioned whether the grand jury had the authority to issue the subpoenas and said patients' privacy could be in jeopardy.
"We simply want to give the Kansas Supreme Court the opportunity to examine these issues," said Six spokeswoman Ashley Anstaett. "Our subpoena deals with a subset of the medical records involved in the Supreme Court's recent ruling."
Six disclosed last week that he had received two subpoenas from the grand jury. He complied with one, which sought testimony gathered previously from a doctor who worked with Tiller on some late-term abortions.
Tiller's clinic has been the target of frequent protests and the inspiration for legislative attempts to restrict abortion. His clinic was bombed in 1986, and seven years later, a woman shot him in both arms.
Last year, Six's predecessor, Paul Morrison, filed 19 misdemeanor charges against Tiller in Sedgwick County District Court. Morrison alleged Tiller failed to obtain a second opinion on late-term abortions in 2003 from an independent physician, as required by a 1998 state law. The case is pending, and Six has said it still will be prosecuted.
The attorney general's filing Friday was the latest development in a series of legal disputes surrounding Tiller.