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 ↑
Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison says 15 of the criminal counts prepared by his predecessor against politically influential Wichita late-term abortionist George Tiller are “without merit.”
Morrison’s office issued a news statement to local media saying that there was nothing to support the charges filed against Tiller, nick-named “Tiller the Killer” for his late-term abortions, by former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline.
The 15 counts effectively dumped by Morrison involved allegations that Tiller did not comply with state law in reporting the reasons for late-term abortions.
The announcement came as no surprise to pro-life organizations who have been lobbying for the prosecution to continue. They have noted that Morrison was elected in 2006 with the support of a massive mailing campaign that denigrated Kline as “Snoop Dogg” for seeking medical records from abortion clinics in his pursuit of the case.
The organization that sponsored the thousands of mailers shared a street address with Pro-Kan-Do, a political action committee funded by Tiller, according to local newspapers.
Morrison’s conclusion was that Tiller could not be charged with criminal intent because he filled out the forms reporting late-term abortions the way the Kansas Department of Health and Environment required them to be filled out.
However, “[Former] Attorney General Kline investigated Tiller and believed, from the evidence, that Tiller violated the law. A Shawnee County judge looked at the evidence and ruled that there was probable cause to believe that Tiller violated the law. A Sedgwick County judge and the special prosecutor came to the same conclusion after reviewing the evidence,” said Cheryl Sullenger, senior policy adviser to Operation Rescue.
“One of the nation’s most accomplished and respected psychiatrists looked at the records and concluded that Tiller was violating the law. In fact, the only person to look at the records and determine that Tiller did not violate the law is Paul Morrison,” she said. “The reasons women are getting abortions – so they can go to rock concerts or so they will not wreck their tummy tucks are not being reported as required by law. The laws are not being properly enforced at any level of government.”
Morrison also was critical of Kline’s actions, saying the former attorney general, now serving in Morrison’s old post as the Johnson County district attorney, left out evidence in a probable-cause affidavit supporting the charges.
A spokesman for Kline, Brian Burgess, told the Wichita Eagle that’s wrong. “Paul Morrison is acting like Tiller’s defense attorney,” he said.
Tiller’s defense attorney, Dan Monnat, told the newspaper, “It looks like finally there is being an independent and professional investigation conducted. As we’ve said all along, we are confident that once it is concluded Dr. Tiller will be found innocent of all charges.”
A spokeswoman for Morrison, Ashley Anstaett, complained that the records had been left in several locations, including with a judge. “If he were really interested in investigating potential criminal wrongdoing, he [Kline] would have left some information in the Attorney General’s office…”
She also said Kline mistakenly used the wrong documentation in supporting certain charges, and that some forms were miscopied.
While Kline said Tiller had not filed the proper information, Anstaett said after reviewing a statement from regulators, and “conducting a new interview,” it was concluded Tiller “appropriately reported the reason for each late-term abortion.”
“Not only did KDHE accept the forms filled out by Dr. Tiller, they helped him fill them out correctly. These 11 counts were ridiculous,” she said.
Still being awaited is Morrison’s conclusion about the 15 counts Kline filed alleging Tiller performed illegal late-term abortions. In Kansas, state law allows such abortions only when the mother’s life is threatened or there would be serious and irreversible impacts on the mother without the abortion.
But 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, noted those “impacts” weren’t supported in the files he reviewed.
In an 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.”
When McHugh’s statements became public Morrison’s office immediately launched a campaign to shut him up, hand-delivering a letter to McHugh, who was scheduled to address a community meeting. The letter 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.”
Sullenger said she still is awaiting Morrison’s decision on the illegal late-term abortion charges.
“There is ample evidence in the public domain right now to get a conviction on that charge,” Sullenger said. “If Morrison lets Tiller off the hook on those counts, then he is the one who should be under investigation for corruption and obstruction of justice.”
Just days earlier, Morrison announced he found no evidence of criminal conduct in abortion records obtained from Planned Parenthood by Kline.
“We believe that Morrison has serious credibility issues, especially after the Associated Press reported just last Saturday on his political connections to abortion money,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. “There have been serious concerns that Morrison’s abortion investigations have been little more than a sham. This announcement does nothing but heighten those concerns.”