Archive for Friday, August 17, 2012

Charges against Overland Park Planned Parenthood clinic dropped

August 17, 2012, 2:55 p.m. Updated August 17, 2012, 11:19 p.m.


— A Kansas prosecutor on Friday dropped all remaining criminal charges against a Kansas City-area Planned Parenthood clinic accused of performing illegal abortions, ending what was believed to be the first attempt in the U.S. to prosecute a facility affiliated with the group.

Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe announced that 32 misdemeanor charges against the clinic had been dismissed. Those charges were the last part of a criminal case filed in 2007 by Howe’s predecessor. Howe said his decision to end the case came after consulting Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt. All three are Republicans.

“It is an unfortunate conclusion that I don’t think is going to satisfy anybody, but that is the reality of what we have to deal with today,” Howe said during a news conference at his office at the courthouse in Olathe. “But ultimately, the decision should be about the law and the evidence.”

The remaining charges dealt with allegations that the clinic had violated a state law that restricted late-term abortions after a fetus was viable, or could survive outside the womb. The clinic was accused of not properly determining whether a fetus was viable, but Howe said “extensive research” by his office led it to conclude the clinic had met the tests spelled out in the law.

Pedro Irigonegaray, a Topeka attorney representing the clinic, praised the decision: “Finally, the truth comes out.”

But it frustrated and angered abortion opponents. “Being found innocent and getting away with something are two completely different things,” said Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life.

Phill Kline, the prosecutor who filed the charges, said Howe’s statements indicated “he doesn’t understand the case” and that a prosecutor has broad discretion in deciding whether to prosecute.

“This fact, however, does not make this decision correct but only demonstrates the District Attorney acted out of political fear rather than a sound understanding of the law, the facts or the case,” Kline, who was unseated by Howe in an election, said in an email.

The clinic originally faced 107 criminal charges, including 23 felonies accusing it of falsifying copies of reports on abortions it had filed with the state. All of the allegations stemmed from abortions performed by the clinic in Overland Park in 2003. Of those charges, 75 were previously dismissed over the past 10 months for different reasons.

The remaining charges covered 16 abortions in 2003. One count for each procedure alleged that the clinic hadn’t properly determined the viability of a fetus, while another count for each said the abortion violated the late-term restrictions.

In 2003, the late-term restrictions applied to abortions at or after the 22nd week of pregnancy if a doctor determined the fetus was viable. In such instances, abortions were limited to saving a woman’s life or preventing “substantial and irreversible harm” to “a major bodily function,” which could include mental health. Legislators rewrote the law last year so that viability is no longer a factor, only whether a woman’s life is in danger or she faces permanent, major damage to her physical health if the pregnancy continues to term.

Howe said mortality rates for babies born prematurely made it more likely than not that the aborted fetuses weren’t viable, and the law didn’t require other tests for viability.

Legal disputes surrounding the case have delayed even a preliminary hearing to determine whether there was enough evidence against the clinic to warrant a trial. Johnson County District Judge Stephen Tatum had planned to have scheduling hearing Monday.

Kline, a Republican, began investigating abortion providers as Kansas attorney general in 2003. He lost his bid for re-election to the state office in 2006 but then served two years as Johnson County district attorney, losing to Howe in the Republican primary in August 2008.

Planned Parenthood officials and attorneys repeatedly have described the case as politically motivated because Kline opposes abortion.

Kline, now a visiting assistant professor of law at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., said evidence of potential wrongdoing — not his politics — drove his investigations. Abortion opponents also have argued that abortion-rights supporters long protected the clinic, including two Democrats who followed Kline in the attorney general’s office before Schmidt won it in the 2010 election.


Bob_Keeshan 5 years, 10 months ago

What? A guy who is up for election this year waited until a few days after the GOP primary to announce he was dropping these bogus charges?

The same bogus charges he promised to pursue in order to win the GOP primary in 2008, and to defeat his opponent in the general election that November?


yellowrose2 5 years, 10 months ago

First of all, it has been almost a month since the GOP primary,not "a few days", in which Howe had no opponent. Steve Howe never promised to follow through on the charges, he only said something would be done about the case, which is exactly what happened. It is not shocking to anyone who knows anything about politics, its simply smart and also perfectly legal.

Bob_Keeshan 5 years, 10 months ago

Has it really been almost a month since the August 7th GOP primary? Wow, time flies, I had no idea it was September already...

myavaka 5 years, 10 months ago

God loves the smell of people dying, including children both born and unborn. Haven't you read your own Bible? He demands the killing of innocent people all the time.

Kendall Simmons 5 years, 10 months ago

"It is an unfortunate conclusion that I don't think is going to satisfy anybody, but that is the reality of what we have to deal with today," Howe said..."But ultimately, the decision should be about the law and the evidence."

And "Howe said 'extensive research' by his office led it to conclude the clinic had met the tests spelled out in the law."

Howe dropped the charges because of the law and the evidence...and you're complaining that he is a disgrace and gutless???

Sorry, sageon...but, yet again, I suggest that you start doing some serious soul-searching.

You need to stop belittling and demeaning other people because they don't behave the way you think they should. You need to stop acting as though someone died and made you God.

voevoda 5 years, 10 months ago

Judeo-Christian-Islamic teachings on abortion are very diverse, SageonPage. So on what basis do you claim to know God's mind? For centuries, even the Roman Catholic Church considered abortion to be a private, pastoral matter, to be handled between priest and parishioner. It's still that way in many countries, where abortion (and birth control) are established rights. What makes you think that it's appropriate for one religious group to impose its stance on these topics on the rest of the citizenry?

yellowrose2 5 years, 10 months ago

I fail to understand how you can call this man gutless and a disgrace. No one is sweeping this under the rug and no one is pretending that there were no innocent lives lost, every time an abortion is preformed (not just late term abortions, which the case was about) an innocent life is lost. The charges were dropped because Howe's predecesor, Phil Kline, filed the case based on a personally fueled agenda and had, in fact, severley messed up the case and the paperwork surrounding it. There simply was not enough evidence to prosecute the case and Howe did the right thing in dropping it. The prosecution of a case is based on facts and evidence, which this case had little of, by the time Kline had messed with the files. Like Howe said "It is an unfortunate conclusion that I dont think is going to satisfy anybody..." but the law is the law.

Keith 5 years, 10 months ago

Now will PP sue to get their legal fees paid? They should if they can.

Jean Robart 5 years, 10 months ago

Finally a voice of reason in this bogus case(s)

Cait McKnelly 5 years, 10 months ago

This is the final repudiation of Phill Kline and his agenda. The corrupt personal vendetta is at an end. Now will Kline return to the state the copies of records with which he absconded to Virginia? Probably not. I'm sure he takes his abortion porn out every night and strokes it like a serial killer with a trophy.

hedshrinker 5 years, 10 months ago

Kline's 5 yr vendetta that he stuck KS with and then disappeared to greener is sad when you think of all the poor families who could have been fed and clothed and housed and educated and day-cared and immunized and preventive cared with the $$$$$$$$ in legal fees and the time and energy wasted. What a travesty.

Evan Ridenour 5 years, 10 months ago

“But ultimately, the decision should be about the law and the evidence.”

This is what the initial question should have been. Better late than never I suppose.

JackMcKee 5 years, 10 months ago

Next, we'll be putting some science teachers on trial for teaching that humans and monkeys share a common ancestor. Kansas Republictards just can't waste enough time and money on frivalous abuses of the legal system.

JackMcKee 5 years, 10 months ago

So what class is Philllllll teaching?

How to get disbarred.

How to file and lose

How to add extra consonants to your name

I bet he's one heck of a good teacher

Pastor_Bedtime 5 years, 10 months ago

Some of the folks here would vote for a Kobach / Kline ticket.

Orwell 5 years, 10 months ago

Why not just elect Dave and Charlie and cut out the middlemen?

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