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Mr. Laz
03-04-2008, 10:02 AM
Posted on Mon, Mar. 03, 2008 10:15 PM



Grand jury won’t indict Planned Parenthood

By DIANE CARROLL
The Kansas City Star
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Kline


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<!-- END /pubsys/production/story/story_assets.comp --> A Johnson County grand jury wrapped up its three-month investigation of Planned Parenthood’s Overland Park clinic Monday without issuing any indictments.


At a hastily called late-afternoon court hearing, the grand jury’s special counsel told District Judge Kevin Moriarty that the 15-member panel had examined all the medical information before it and saw no need to request further abortion records. In addition, retired Judge Larry McClain said, the grand jurors voted unanimously to withdraw their earlier subpoena for medical records.


The president of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri said he was “enormously pleased” with the outcome.
“That affirms our contention throughout that we’ve had nothing to fear from this investigation,” said Peter Brownlie, who attended the hearing with two of his attorneys. “And we are very pleased that at no point in this process has any identifying information on our patients been turned over to grand jurors or anyone else.”
Planned Parenthood attorney Pedro Irigonegaray told The Associated Press: “It gives me great faith in the justice system and the people of Kansas.”


Two leaders of the petition drive that called for the grand jury investigation said they were disappointed but not surprised with the finding.


“We put the full blame on Judge Moriarty and the special counsel,” petition drive spokesman Tim Golba of Lenexa said.
The grand jury, which was seated Dec. 10, issued a subpoena on Jan. 7 for the medical records of 16 women who had abortions in 2003. Planned Parenthood filed a motion soon afterward to quash it. Since then, District Attorney Phill Kline has been fighting to have the subpoena enforced.


But last week, Moriarty agreed to a plan worked out between the grand jury and its special counsel and Planned Parenthood. Under the plan, Planned Parenthood turned over the medical records of the 16 women to the judge, along with a spreadsheet Planned Parenthood created with the pertinent information requested by the grand jury.


Moriarty verified that the information in the records matched the information in the spreadsheet and turned the spreadsheet over to the grand jury.
Golba and Judy Smith of Leawood, another grand jury organizer, said they thought Moriarty should have ruled on Planned Parenthood’s motion to quash the subpoena. This would have allowed the matter to be appealed to the Kansas Supreme Court, where it could have been litigated further, they said.


“For Judge Moriarty to insert himself into this process acting as the gatekeeper and them not seeing the records was very surprising to me — shocking actually,” said Smith, Kansas director of Concerned Women for America. “But having said that, we wanted a jury and we got the jury and we’re glad for that.”
Moriarty said at last Friday’s hearing that the easiest thing for him would have been to rule on the subpoena because then it would have been out of his hands.
Instead, he said, he chose to provide the grand jury with the information it wanted. Turning it over in a timely fashion, he said, allowed the grand jury to complete its work.


State law limits the length of a grand jury to three months. The grand jury’s deadline was next Monday. Moriarty had the authority to extend it an additional 30 days. But if the case had gone to the state Supreme Court, Moriarty said, he does not think it would have been resolved within another three-month period.

The grand jury met most of Monday afternoon, presumably reviewing the spreadsheet.
Deputy District Attorney Stephen Maxwell, who attended Monday’s hearing with Assistant District Attorney John Christopher Pryor, declined to comment afterward, and a spokesman for Kline could not be reached.
Kline’s office argued all along for the enforcement of the grand jury’s subpoena, which would have provided more information than jurors ultimately received.


In a recent motion, Kline’s office argued that the subpoena should be enforced because a Shawnee County district judge thought that there were problems with abortion records Planned Parenthood provided to Kline in 2004 while he was Kansas attorney general. That judge testified recently that he thought that former Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison should not have cleared Planned Parenthood of criminal wrongdoing last June.
Still pending is a 107-count criminal complaint that Kline filed against Planned Parenthood last fall. The complaint accuses Planned Parenthood’s Comprehensive Health Clinic of providing illegal late-term abortions in 2003 and of forging, falsifying and failing to maintain abortion-related records. A preliminary hearing is scheduled in that case in early April.
During Monday’s hearing, none of the grand jurors chose to speak or to comment afterward. McClain told Moriarty that the grand jurors planned to write a report on their work. He was not sure when it would be completed.
The citizens petition asked that the grand jury investigate Planned Parenthood in seven areas of abortion law. Court documents indicated that the grand jury focused its inquiry on the parental notification and 24-hour waiting period requirements.
However, Brownlie said Planned Parenthood turned over information to the grand jury that related to all seven areas of concern.
Smith, one of the grand jury organizers, said she was not sure what abortion opponents would do next. She said she believes that they would have the right to circulate a new petition calling for a new grand jury.


“I don’t know what we will do, but that certainly is something that is a definite possibility,” Smith said.
Moriarty on Monday thanked the grand jury for its work.
“I know this has not been an easy process for anyone,” Moriarty said. “I know there will be some who will suggest or think you didn’t work as hard as you should have. I can’t imagine how you could have worked any harder.”