Kansas Attorney General Investigates Young Minors' Abortions.
"When a 10-, 11- or 12-year-old child is pregnant, under Kansas law that child has been raped, and as the state's chief law enforcement official it is my obligation to investigate child rape in order to protect Kansas children," Kline told reporters at a February 24 press conference. "There are two things that child predators want, access to children and secrecy. As attorney general, I'm bound and determined not to give them either."
A Kansas law passed in 1998 prohibits abortions performed after 22 weeks unless the "abortion is necessary to preserve the life of the pregnant woman or that a continuation of the pregnancy will cause a substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman." State law also requires all health care providers to report cases of suspected child abuse.
Kline's request came to light when the clinics - - Women's Health Care Services in Wichita, which is owned by abortionist George Tiller, and Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri - - asked the Kansas Supreme Court February 23 to block Kline's investigation, the Wichita Eagle reported. Attorney General Kline's efforts began last fall when Shawnee County District Judge Richard Anderson ordered the clinics to release the information.
But the court also issued a gag order and sealed all legal documents. Thus Anderson's October 2004 order did not become public until late February when Tiller's attorneys asked the state High Court to block what they characterized as a "secret inquisition."
Kline insists that statistics reported by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment justify further investigation into child abuse and abortion. "The public record in Kansas demonstrates this," Kline said on MSNBC's The Abrams Report. "I'm not revealing anything relating to the investigation, that in the year 2003 alone, 78 14-year-old children - - 14-year-old and younger children in Kansas - - had abortions. That is rape under Kansas law."
The abortion clinics accused Kline of seeking to violate their patients' privacy rights. "These women's rights will be sacrificed if this fishing expedition is not halted or narrowed," the clinics said in court papers, according to the Associated Press (AP). According to the New York Times, Tiller "funneled at least $150,000 through political action committees to Mr. Kline's opponent in the attorney general's race in 2002."
Pro-lifers in the state applauded Kline for his investigation. "We're talking about sworn law enforcement officers having access to files so they can go after child rapists and predators," Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, told the New York Times. "Because our attorney general happens to be pro-life is no reason to deny him information that can spare children that pain."
Kansans for Life also publicized a contradiction between the statements and actions of Tiller's clinic. While criticizing Kline for seeking information in a criminal investigation, Women's Health Care Services included on its web site a notice that it would release patients' names, addresses, phone numbers, and date of services to fundraisers, unless the patient expressly asked the clinic to keep the information confidential.
As soon as the pro-life group made the fundraising policy public, it was removed from the web site. Clinic spokeswoman Julie Burkhart called the web site notice a "mistake," according to the AP.
"Tiller's spokeswoman released a statement decrying those who 'seek to invade the personal lives and medical records of women to further their own political agenda,'" said Culp. "The irony is that her statement aptly describes Tiller's web site-stated practice of releasing patient information to fundraisers for clinic activities and Tiller's political action committee, ProKanDo."
In his February 24 statement, Kline also pointed out another contradiction in the actions of Tiller's clinic: the clinic released information about a specific woman's abortion to Texas authorities in response to a subpoena. The "clinic recently volunteered evidence in response to a Texas subpoena; a Kansas subpoena is not different," said Kline.
The unidentified 19-year-old woman, a Texas resident who was developmentally disabled, died after "receiving services" in Tiller's abortion clinic, the AP reported.