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Mr. Laz
09-09-2005, 12:18 PM
Medical clinic records sought

By DAVID KLEPPER

The Kansas City Star

TOPEKA — Attorney General Phill Kline wants access to 90 records of medical clinics that perform abortions because he believes each record contains clues to felonies by child predators and the clinics.

In oral arguments before the state Supreme Court on Thursday, a prosecutor for Kline gave the most details yet as to what Kline hopes to gain from reviewing the medical records that have been subpoenaed from two clinics.

Deputy Attorney General Eric Rucker told the justices the crimes committed by the clinics could include criminal failure to report child abuse and illegal abortions. The women weren’t selected at random, Rucker said, but because there was probable cause that a crime had been committed.

“It is not just one possible felony, but more than one felony in each of the 90 records,” Rucker said.

Kline is seeking records of women and girls who received abortions at the Comprehensive Health clinic in Overland Park and the Women’s Health Care clinic in Wichita. The clinics asked the Supreme Court to intervene after a Shawnee County judge issued subpoenas at Kline’s request. The clinics say the subpoenas are too broad and that unless the request is limited, it constitutes a violation of privacy.

The subpoenas demand the entire medical records, including names, addresses and sexual and mental health histories. All 90 of the women received late-term abortions. Nearly three-fourths of the women were adults when they received an abortion.

While child predators remain another target of the investigation, Thursday was the first time a prosecutor in the case has said the clinics are suspected of multiple felonies. Clinic officials called the accusations absurd and politically motivated.

“We’ve known we were the target,” said Peter Brownlie, president of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, which operates the clinic in Overland Park. “This attorney general has been very clear that he was out to get abortion providers. But it’s never been stated before like it was today.”

The Supreme Court heard arguments from both sides for more than an hour Thursday. A ruling could come anytime, but isn’t expected before the end of October. Kline did not speak at the hearing, but released a written statement afterward saying the legal system is “working appropriately.”

Justices repeatedly asked Rucker whether prosecutors subpoenaed other records that could contain evidence of child rape, such as live births. Rucker said they had not. Justices also asked Rucker what led prosecutors to believe there was evidence of a crime contained within the files.

Though he wouldn’t elaborate, Rucker said there is probable cause to believe the clinics are not reporting suspicions on child abuse and are ignoring laws regulating late-term abortion.

By Kansas law physicians are required to report any suspicion that a patient has been abused physically, emotionally or sexually. According to Kansas law, any girl under 16 impregnated by an adult man is considered to have been raped. In 2004, some 79 girls under 15 received abortions in Kansas, accounting for 0.7 percent of all abortions reported to the state.

Abortion providers are prohibited from performing abortions after 22 weeks gestation unless the fetus will not survive or continued pregnancy would harm the mother.

Failure by a physician to report child abuse is a misdemeanor. Illegal late-term abortion is a misdemeanor too, but multiple occurrences can elevate it to a felony.

Brownlie said after the hearing that the clinics report all suspicions of abuse and follow all rules for late-term abortions.

An attorney for the clinics, Lee Thompson, told the justices that intimate medical information should be subpoenaed only when the records are of “compelling state interest” and then only in “the least intrusive manner possible.”

If Kline suspects illegal late-term abortions, then he could subpoena sonograms used by physicians in late-term abortions, Thompson said. If he is investigating abortions performed on minors, he doesn’t need files for adult women. If the clinics are under suspicion, the identifying information of the patients is unnecessary.

“It doesn’t even meet the test of logic,” Thompson said.

But Rucker said prosecutors routinely subpoena medical records. He said Kline will protect the information within the records and never reveal a name, address or other identifier.

The clinics have asked the court to find Kline in contempt of court for releasing transcripts of the case — which was under a gag order until last spring — to the public.

Former Kansas Attorney General Bob Stephan addressed the court to defend Kline.

Thursday’s oral arguments brought out vocal advocates for and against abortion rights.

Julie Burkhart, director of the abortion-rights lobbying group ProKanDo, said Kline “wants to insert his political agenda into the courts.”

Michele Herzog, of the Wichita-based anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, said voters “elected Phill Kline to do exactly what he is trying to do.”


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What’s next

The Kansas Supreme Court could rule any time on whether two clinics must turn over medical records of 90 patients. However, the ruling isn’t expected before the end of October.

memyselfI
09-09-2005, 12:19 PM
Oh Lovely, a fishing expedition. :shake:

WilliamTheIrish
09-09-2005, 07:05 PM
That f*cking Kline.

How the phuck that guy got elected is just sickenin. The useless phuckwit let his license to practice law expire 3 times.

And this bullshit about looking for predators. Kansas doesn't even prosecute 80% of those cases.