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Regulators asked to suspend Tiller license
Posted By -NO AUTHOR- On 03/07/2007 @ 1:00 am In Front Page | Comments Disabled
Regulators for the health industry in Kansas are being asked to revoke the license of George Tiller, a prominent late-term abortionist who runs a business in Wichita, for “committing illegal late-term abortions.”
The request comes from officials with Operation Rescue, a group that has been lobbying for Tiller’s operation to be shut down, acting at least partly on behalf of a woman named “Janice,” who went to Tiller for a late-term abortion after being told her baby had a physical disability “incompatible with life.”
Initially she was grateful for Tiller’s $19,000 procedure to terminate her child’s life, even though she was given drugs throughout. Then she said her local doctor told her the drugs she was given were a form of synthetic heroin that is illegal in Canada, and could have killed her.
“I am no longer grateful for Dr. Tiller ‘helping me.’ He didn’t help me at all. I wish now I would [have] had the courage to deliver my little girl and let her get even just one breath of air before she passed, to let her see my face just once… I will never have that chance now and I will always have to live with the decision I made and the nightmares of what happened to me in Kansas. All I have now is my little 6 lb. 2 oz. daughter’s ashes in a tiny silver engraved box…,” Janice told Operation Rescue.
“Dr. Tiller didn’t help me. He robbed me and I let him. Women need to know what goes on there.”
“I urge you to please take this request for investigation seriously, since the health and safety of women is at stake here, as well as the lives of viable babies that the law was meant to protect,” said the request to the state, submitted by spokeswoman Cheryl Sullenger.
The group filed a complaint with the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts last October, and with this letter submitted a series of seven additional documents in support of that request, including a copy of the 30 criminal charges filed by the state’s former attorney general against Tiller.
“Our own investigations revealed that Tiller was likely doing illegal abortions. The former attorney general came to that same conclusion,” said Troy Newman, president of the organization.
Although the 30-count criminal complaint later was dismissed at the request of Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston on jurisdictional grounds, the merits of those allegations never have been challenged, Operation Rescue said.
Kansas law bans abortions past 22 weeks gestation, allowing exceptions only if the woman’s life is in danger or if the pregnancy will cause a “substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function,” officials said.
However, many of the late-term procedures are done with a justification of “depression,” and Operation Rescue noted that while former Attorney General Carla Stovall, an abortion supporter, allowed such mental conditions to be considered a “major bodily function” under state law, “depression” does not rise to the level of “substantial and irreversible.”
“We are asking for the revocation of Tiller’s medical license in light of the seriousness of aborting viable babies that should be protected by law,” said Sullenger.
Shelly R. Wakeman, the disciplinary counsel for the board, responded that the review could take some time. “You will likely be contacted by an investigator for more information. Kansas law requires that the Board keep matters under investigation confidential. This means that unless public disciplinary action is taken against the licensees, we will be unable to advise you of the progress or of the findings of our investigation.”
Also named in the complaint was Ann Kristin Neuhaus, a Tiller associate who had been listed as a witness in the state’s case that Kline assembled against Tiller. Her “sworn statement” that was used in support of Kline’s case remains sealed so far, as does an affidavit from Dr. Paul McHugh, of Johns Hopkins Medical Center, and a statement from Dr. Lorne Phillips, of the state health department.
Sullenger’s documentation included information taken from Tiller’s advertising, which notes that he has experience in terminating pregnancies for “such situations as anencephaly, Trisomy 13, 18, and 21, polycystic kidney disease, spina bifida, hydrocephalus, Potter’s syndrome” and others, but Sullenger noted those were health issues involving the baby, not the mother as the state law requires.
Mary Kay Culp, the state executive director for Kansans for Life said the state board isn’t known for its willingness to buck the abortion industry. But at the same time, there are considerable advances that are possible through its regulatory powers, she said.
“In 2005, 19-year-old Christine Gilbert died from a botched third-trimester abortion procured at Tiller’s Wichita abortion mill,” Operation Rescue said. “The KSBHA indicated that the ‘standard of practice’ had not been violated, and refused to discipline Tiller. Suspicions arose at the time that political cover as given to Tiller in the Gilbert case because of his heavy campaign contributions to Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who personally appoints the members of the KSBHA.”
However, this is a time to look beyond politics, the group said.
“We urge the KSBHA to set aside political motivations, and take an honest look at this complaint. Interview the witnesses. Subpoena the documents from the criminal case. Look at the facts. Tiller and his abortion business create a clear and present danger to viable pre-born babies and their mothers. Swift action must be taken to stop further loss of innocent life,” said Sullenger.
Only two weeks ago, Attorney General Paul Morrison, who was elected in November and took office in January, became the second prosecutor to order that a judge-approved case against Tiller be terminated without reviewing any evidence.
Former Attorney General Phill Kline, who investigated allegations of illegalities at Tiller’s Wichita abortion business and who filed the 30 charges after they were reviewed and approved by two state judges, said the action by 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 shortly after a special prosecutor’s writ of mandamus to the state Supreme Court was dismissed on Morrison’s request.
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 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.
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.
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