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'Tiller the killer' abortion charges coming to head

George Tiller

The results of yet another investigation into allegations a notorious Kansas doctor performs illegal late-term abortions will be released within a few weeks, officials have announced.

Just six months ago the first investigation was finished, and it resulted in then-Attorney General Phill Kline filing 30 criminal charges against George Tiller.

The state, which is under pressure from pro-life activists to move on the charges, will complete its second investigation into the charges against Tiller “by the end of June,” according to a statement from Ashley Anstadt, a spokeswoman for current Attorney General Paul Morrison.

However, she told WND she could not release the details of the “ongoing investigation.”

The pressure on the state has been mounting, because Kline, who was replaced in January by Morrison, had completed his investigation of Tiller. After having two judges approve the case, Kline had filed the 30 criminal counts against Tiller for performing illegal late-term procedures as well as failing to document the reasons for those abortions.

A series of moves by officials, including a prosecutor and a judge, resulted in those charges being dismissed almost immediately.

But producers for Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, who has aired several updates on the situation, were in Wichita recently to confront Tiller on a trip to a gas station about the allegations.

The segment aired Tuesday, showing Tiller commenting about the weather when asked about the late-term abortions he performs.

The segment on O’Reilly also discussed a videotaped statement from Paul McHugh, a nationally noted psychiatrist who was hired by Kline to examine redacted medical records obtained by the state from Tiller and deliver an expert opinion about the validity of the psychiatric diagnoses used by Tiller to justify post-viability abortions.

As WND columnist Jack Cashill has documented, those evaluations produced no credible evidence that there was a reasonable basis for the abortions.

The issue at hand is the late-term abortions Tiller performs. State law bans abortions after 21 weeks unless the mother’s life is in danger or the pregnancy will produce “substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function,” which has been interpreted to include mental health factors.

In the interview, arranged by Women Influencing the Nation, McHugh said the reasons cited by Tiller were “social,” not “psychiatric.”

“Some of them [the reasons] would be construed as trivial,” he said. “A trivial one would be not being able to go to a rock concert.”

None of the anonymous case files included a full psychiatric profile, he said. “There’s a life at stake here. Much more serious issues need to be brought up, especially if you want to obey the Kansas law.”

He said other reasons offered for terminating the life of the unborn child were that the mother was worried the offspring would not thrive, that the woman would have her future redirected, that she wouldn’t get a good education after she had a child, that they would always feel guilty…

“These are not psychiatric ideas, they’re social,” he said. “There was nothing to back these things up.”

Morrison’s office then hand-delivered a letter to McHugh, who was scheduled to address a community meeting Tuesday night on the issue, that included an order requiring that he discontinue making any statements about his review.

“We hereby demand that you cease and desist from any and all such statements, as they threaten our ongoing investigation and violate the privacy of the women whose medical records you reviewed,” the letter said. “Your statements to the media and to Operation Rescue and others regarding this investigation may well violate [state] standards and threaten our ability to conduct a fair trial.”

Anstadt told WND that the letter was sent because McHugh’s affidavit is part of the investigative file which is being used to develop the case against Tiller.

But Cheryl Sullenger, a spokeswoman for Operation Rescue, which has referenced Tiller as “Tiller the killer” for his late-term abortion practice, told WND that the group has a copy of the entire 44-minute video with McHugh and plans to release additional comments soon.

She said Morrison, an abortion supporter, either needs to move forward with filing charges or turn the case over to a special prosecutor who will handle it.

Tiller was the subject of a multi-year investigation by Kline, who filed 30 criminal counts against him. However, those charges were dismissed by a judge with connections to Tiller’s lawyers on the request of a prosecutor who also had connections to the other players in the case.

Then Kline appointed a special independent prosecutor to handle the case, but, as WND reported, he was fired by Morrison as soon as he took office.

Sullenger told WND that the threats against McHugh were because of his great nationwide recognition, as a member of the President’s Council on Mental Health and director of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

“When you don’t have a real legitimate argument, you resort to attacks on peoples’ character,” she said.

McHugh did cooperate with Morrison’s demand, and did not address the issues again in Tuesday night’s meeting. However, Sullenger also said he had already said what he wanted to say.

O’Reilly also aired comments from another psychiatrist, Brian Russell, who said a real travesty is the fact that the Kansas legislature passed a law this year requiring Tiller to provide such information about late-term abortions, but it was vetoed by Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.

Tuesday’s meeting was opened by former state Rep. Mary Pilcher-Cook, who read Morrison’s letter threatening McHugh with legal action if he made any statements. McHugh arrived later at the meeting co-hosted by Cashill, but didn’t make further statements.

Operation Rescue said Morrison “benefited from nearly $1 million in campaign help linked directly to Tiller.” The group also reported that McHugh said he’d never been contacted by Morrison’s office about the investigation that’s going on now.

State officials disputed that, saying they had talked with McHugh about possibly testifying.

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