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Kansas abortion case called flawed

Former attorney general acted unethically while trying to prosecute provider, official says.

June 28, 2007|From the Associated Press

TOPEKA, KAN. — A criminal case against a high-profile abortion provider was seriously flawed, and the state's former attorney general acted unethically while trying to prosecute him, a top aide to the current attorney general said Wednesday.

Atty. Gen. Paul Morrison will not pursue 15 of 30 charges filed against Dr. George Tiller of Wichita by his predecessor, Phill Kline, spokeswoman Ashley Anstaett said. She wouldn't discuss the other 15 charges.

Tiller is among the few U.S. physicians performing late-term abortions and has been performing abortions in Kansas since 1973. His clinic was bombed in 1986. Seven years later, a protester shot him in both arms though the injuries were not severe.

Kline accused him of performing illegal late-term abortions and failing to properly report details about the procedures to state health officials. Kline filed his case in December in Sedgwick County, but a judge dismissed it the next day for jurisdictional reasons.

In four of the charges, Kline cited the wrong records, Anstaett said. For 11 others, Kline obtained but omitted evidence favoring Tiller, a move she described as "unethical." She also said he was careless and irresponsible with the patient records he handled.

Kline called Anstaett's statements false and suggested Morrison was handling the case as if he were defending Tiller, not investigating him. Morrison plans to announce today or Friday whether he'll pursue any criminal charges against Tiller.

"Paul's depiction is false," Kline said, adding that it sounded like Tiller's defense team "has been at work."

Morrison, a Democrat who supports abortion rights, defeated Kline, an antiabortion Republican, in the November general election. Kline filed his case less than three weeks before leaving office on Jan. 8; once Morrison took over, he started his own investigation.

Kline became Johnson County, Kan., district attorney.

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