Bob Unruh joined WND in 2006 after nearly three decades with the Associated Press, as well as several Upper Midwest newspapers, where he covered everything from legislative battles and sports to tornadoes and homicidal survivalists. He is also a photographer whose scenic work has been used commercially.More ↓Less ↑
The top law enforcement officer in the state of Kansas has become the second prosecutor to order that a judge-approved prosecution of abortionist George Tiller be terminated “without reviewing any evidence,” according to the former attorney general.
And Phill Kline, who investigated allegations of illegalities at Tiller’s Wichita abortion business and who filed the charges after they were reviewed and approved by two state judges, said the action by new Attorney General Paul Morrison “is not the proper role for the state’s chief law enforcement officer.”
“We have the fox guarding the henhouse and he’s just eaten one of the hens,” Kline told WND in an interview late yesterday, shortly after a special prosecutor’s writ of mandamus to the state Supreme Court was dismissed on Morrison’s request.
“I believe the mandamus would have succeeded,” Kline said. “Why would he (Morrison) have dismissed it? It’s a good question. I think the answer is obvious. These are his key political supporters.”
Ashley Anstaett, a spokeswoman for Morrison, had told WND that the writ had been dismissed several days ago, but Kline said that information wasn’t correct. Morrison’s office couldn’t be reached for comment last night.
Kline noted that the action also was in conflict with Morrison’s earlier statements that the process would be allowed to proceed.
The charges documented by Kline against Tiller included 15 counts of performing late-term abortions in violation of Kansas’ age limit of 22 weeks, and 15 counts of not having the state-mandated medical diagnoses for those late-term abortions.
Kline obtained the information from Tiller’s business that he requested by subpoena in 2004 just a few weeks before Christmas in 2006, and filed the charges, after giving Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Tedesco Foulston an opportunity to review the case, a few weeks later.
However, within just hours of that filing, Foulston asked yet another judge, Paul Clark, to dismiss the counts, and he agreed, and then he refused Kline’s request for the counts to be reinstated.
Kline, who was defeated in the 2006 election by Morrison, then attempted to take the politics out of the case by referring it to a special prosecutor, Wichita lawyer Don McKinney.
He filed a writ of mandamus with the state Supreme Court, saying Foulston and Clark “unlawfully usurped” the authority of the attorney general and the state legislature by improperly terminating the case, and seeking the reinstatement of those counts.
“The judicial system of this state cannot function properly if loose cannon local prosecutors can hijack a case from the attorney general and then dismiss the charges to protect their friends or political allies,” McKinney told WND at the time. “Such extraordinary conduct destroys equal justice, interferes with the attorney general’s ranking position, and snubs the authority of the legislature to mandate prosecutions by the attorney general.”
But in one of the first acts when he took over as the state’s new top legal officer, Morrison fired McKinney.
Now the most likely opportunity for a complete review of the case and its counts is finished, Kline said.
McKinney’s suggestion of political payback was endorsed by Operation Rescue, which investigated and uncovered a series of campaign contribution links among the various players in the case, including the abortionist, the district attorney and judge, as well as Morrison, who benefited from mailings sponsored by a group linked to the abortionist, and who campaigned on the statement that the abortion industry in Kansas didn’t need to be investigated.
OR spokesman Troy Newman said there clearly was the “appearance of impropriety here that should be investigated.”
A spokeswoman in Foulston’s office told WND then that the documents, if from a reliable source, would “speak for themselves.”
O’Reilly had presented a series of programs about the Tiller clinic, and then concluded: “You know, I’ve been covering the news in America for 30 years and this Kansas situation is the worst thing I’ve ever seen … Americans cannot turn away from this; cannot ignore it. There should be thousands of people demonstrating outside Tiller’s abortion clinic in Wichita.”
That resulted in the “Cry for Justice” protests in January, organized by Operation Rescue, and when they were over, Newman told WND that the issue was “far from over.” He also said another series of events is scheduled to start May 17.
On the request of several leaders of other pro-life organizations, members of Kansas’ delegation to Congress also have promised to look into the situation.
Rev. Pat Mahoney, director of the Christian Defense Coalition in Washington, D.C., and Gary Cass, executive director of Coral Ridge Ministries’ Center for Reclaiming America, report they met with members of the Kansas delegation, including Sen. Sam Brownback, Rep. Todd Tiahart and staff members from the office of Sen. Pat Roberts.
They were seeking a federal inquiry into the “lack of willingness by certain Kansas officials to uphold Kansas laws,” a circumstance that has placed women’s civil rights “at serious risk and jeopardy.”
“We have met with members of the Kansas congressional delegation and have gone to the Department of Justice because we are seriously concerned that there may be massive violations of the civil rights of women occurring in Kansas,” Mahoney said.
“District Attorney Foulston’s unwillingness to prosecute Tiller, in spite of overwhelming evidence that probable cause exists, is reminiscent of southern prosecutors who turned their backs on the civil rights violations of African Americans during the 1940s and 50s,” he continued. “Women who travel from all over the country to use the services of George Tiller need to know that if they experience unlawful treatment, their civil rights will be upheld.”
Mahoney and Cass both expressed concerns to the delegation that the prosecutor’s unwillingness to allow the charges, whose merits never have been challenged, to be processed in court puts “the civil rights of women” in danger.
“We have exhausted all state remedies in this said,” said Cass. “Political campaign documents have established that the parties in this case are interrelated through a series of campaign contributions. Because of this, the unwillingness of the district attorney and the new attorney general to act in this matter creates a real appearance of impropriety. For the sake of justice and the protection of women, there appears no other option but to ask for federal intervention.”
The leaders said they got assurances their concerns would be reviewed.
Newman said his review of the public records and other materials convinces him that “the state has a strong and compelling case that Tiller has indeed committed illegal abortions on viable babies in violation of Kansas law.”
“Innocent lives continue to be at risk, along with the civil rights of women,” said Newman. “Since local authorities refuse to enforce the law, federal intervention is necessary to preserve the rule of law and the lives of innocent children, which the law was enacted to protect.”
WND has reported on the considerable problems that could be created for abortion businesses if they are in any way found to be violating state laws governing the abortion industry: they could lose all access to federal funding and may even have to repay what they got in earlier years.
And Newman noted the “smoking gun” in the situation is that a former Tiller business associate, Ann Kristen Neuhaus, had been listed as a witness for the prosecution. “She was the person signing off on these abortions,” he noted.