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Archive for Thursday, May 7, 2009

Kansas Supreme Court to hear abortion clinic case

May 7, 2009

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— The Kansas Supreme Court is stepping into a criminal case filed against a suburban Kansas City abortion clinic.

The court plans to hear arguments Wednesday about whether subpoenas issued by former Johnson County District Attorney Phill Kline should be enforced.

In October 2007, Kline filed 107 criminal charges, including 23 felonies, against Planned Parenthood’s clinic in Overland Park, alleging it falsified documents and performed illegal abortions. The clinic denies the charges.

A Johnson County district judge quashed Kline’s subpoenas to four witnesses, and Kline appealed.

Kline, an anti-abortion Republican, became Johnson County district attorney in January 2007 after serving a single term as Kansas attorney general and losing his bid for re-election to the state job in 2006. He was voted out of the DA office last year.

He began investigating the clinic as attorney general and one of the witnesses he subpoenaed as DA is a Shawnee County judge who supervised that investigation. The other witnesses are a Topeka attorney and two Kansas Department of Health and Environment officials.

All four had access to copies of records involving patients from the Planned Parenthood clinic. Kline wanted them to testify at a hearing to determine whether the criminal case would go to trial.

Another legal dispute between Kline and Planned Parenthood is pending with the Supreme Court, and Johnson County District Judge Stephen Tatum quashed Kline’s subpoena for reasons related to that case.

The criminal case against the clinic has remained on hold, in the hands of new District Attorney Steve Howe, a Republican who defeated Kline in the primary election.

Guantanamo detainees

Kansas Republican Pat Roberts is promising to tie the U.S. Senate “up in knots” over any plan to move detainees from Guantanamo Bay to Kansas.

Roberts’ remarks Thursday to the Senate were the latest expression of opposition from Kansas officials to bringing any of the 241 suspected terrorists or enemy combatants to the state from the U.S. naval base on Cuba.

President Barack Obama has ordered the Guantanamo Bay prison closed by January. Fort Leavenworth is one of several sites being considered to house detainees.

Roberts, a former Senate Intelligence Committee chairman, opposes closing the prison.

“One senator has a lot of tools in his toolbox for keeping the Senate tied up in knots,” Roberts said in the prepared text of his remarks. “If someone gets the bright idea of moving these prisoners to Kansas, you all can cancel your summer travel plans because we’re going to be spending a lot of time doing nothing here.”

Rep. Jerry Moran, a Republican who represents the 1st District of western and central Kansas, spoke in the House against moving detainees to Kansas.

“Simply stated, Fort Leavenworth is a poor fit for placing Guantanamo detainees,” he said.

Flu update

Kansas now has 12 confirmed cases of swine flu.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment said Thursday that two new cases have been confirmed in the state’s portion of the Kansas City metropolitan area.

One case is in Johnson County and the other in Wyandotte County. Both involve children, but KDHE provided no further details.

Also, another case in Johnson County involving an adult was confirmed after being listed as probable until testing by the federal Centers for Disease Control was completed.

Nine of the state’s cases are in Johnson and Wyandotte County. Missouri officials have confirmed five cases on their side of the Kansas City metropolitan area.

Two of Kansas’ remaining three cases were in Dickinson County and the other in Sedgwick County.

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