The state Supreme Court in Kansas has ordered a citizen-initiated grand jury to move forward with its work investigating allegations of illegal abortions by George Tiller, who runs a late-term abortion business in Wichita.
Tiller already is facing 19 criminal charges filed by Attorney General Paul Morrison alleging violations of a state law that bans abortions on viable babies after 22 weeks gestation, charges that resulted from a lengthy investigation conducted by former Attorney General Phill Kline.
The grand jury, which under Kansas law can be ordered to investigate an issue based on a citizen petition as in this case, is being asked to investigate Tiller for conducting illegal late-term abortions over the past four years.
“”We are very happy that the Kansas Supreme Court has ruled to follow the law and allow the grand jury to move forward,’ said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. “This is a victory for the rule of law, for the people of Kansas, and for the late-term pre-born babies that laws have been enacted to protect. As the grand jury investigation of Tiller moves forward, we pray for justice to be done.”
Tiller has pleaded not guilty to the 19 counts filed by Morrison, and had gone to court to ask for an exemption to the state law setting up grand juries in Kansas.
But the high court rejected those arguments.
“On Oct. 19, 2007, George M. Tiller commenced this original action in mandamus with a petition that … c hallenged the legality of grand jury proceedings which were scheduled to commence on Oct. 30. 2007,” the court’s conclusion, written by Chief Justice Kay McFarland, said. “Oct. Oct. 26, 2007, this court granted the motion to stay the grand jury proceedings, until further order…”
“Having considered the petition, responses, and the record before us, the Court determines that petitioner has not established entitlement to the relief sought and that … the petition should be and is hereby denied, and the case is dismissed. Accordingly, the stay of the grand jury proceedings is lifted…”
According to the 19 charges filed by Morrison, Tiller failed to follow Kansas late-term abortion law and substantiate the need for such procedures with a second independent opinion.
Kansas law bans late-term abortions past 22 weeks gestation, a developmental milestone recognized as viability in Kansas law. Narrow exceptions to the law are if the woman’s life is in danger, or if the pregnancy will cause a substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function. An opinion issued by former Attorney General Carla Stovall, an abortion supporter, allowed mental health risks to be included as a “major bodily function” under the law, but only if the risk was “substantial and irreversible.”
But in those cases a second opinion from a physician not financially connected to the first is required.
Tiller had been the subject of a multi-year investigation by Kline, who filed 30 criminal counts against him. However, the 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, the special prosecutor was fired by Morrison as soon as he took office early in 2007.
Newman told WND the ruling guarantees that 15 citizens of Kansas serving on a grand jury be able to request and hear evidence on allegations of criminal activity, and make their recommendation.
Just weeks earlier, Operation Rescue also had filed a complaint with the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts alleging Tiller and an employee violated state law when teenager Michelle Armesto had a late-term abortion at Tiller’s clinic in 2003, a procedure that was begun before she signed any consent forms.
Armesto was the woman who provided startling testimony before a state legislative committee investigating late-term abortions recently when she related that her abortion procedure was begun before she signed any paperwork, or had any of the evaluations required by state law.
She also did not know that the abortionists had concluded her baby was “non-viable,” a determination that exempted them from certain state requirements.
“She had no idea that they [abortionists] had declared her baby non-viable,” Operation Rescue spokeswoman Cheryl Sullenger told WND, until she recently obtained her medical records. Sullenger said the unborn child’s mother was a healthy 18-year-old at the time of the abortion, and there had been virtually no indications of any health problems.
Newman noted this is the second complaint filed with the KSBHA against Tiller. A document from October 2006 alleges Tiller and abortionist Ann Kristin Neuhaus had an illegal financial affiliation that they formed in order to perform abortions past viability. Operation Rescue said that complaint now is being reviewed by a Peer Review Board.
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