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Court clears path for Tiller's abortion trial

A team of pro-life activists is telling noted late-term abortionist George Tiller of Wichita, Kan., they’ll be seeing him in court after a judge today cleared the way for a trial on 19 criminal counts.

George Tiller

Tiller, whose abortion industry was featured in a recent profile by WND columnist Jack Cashill of the Kansas abortion war, is facing accusations he illegally aborted 19 viable babies without obtaining an independent second opinion from an unaffiliated Kansas physician of the medical necessity for the abortions.

He could face 19 years in jail if convicted.

“We have just one thing to say to Tiller today and that is, ‘See you in court!'” said Operation Rescue president Troy Newman. “Today’s ruling by Judge [Clark] Owens vindicates our efforts to bring Tiller to justice. All along, we knew that it wasn’t the law that was faulty, but it was Tiller’s interpretation of the law that was faulty. This gives us a glimmer of hope that we could eventually see some shred of justice.”

The ruling from Owens turned back a number of constitutional challenges to the post-viability abortion ban in Kansas when he concluded the law “survives all of the constitutional challenges” presented by Tiller’s attorneys.

The judge rejected Tiller’s motion to dismiss the 19 criminal counts against him.

The 35-page opinion apparently cleared the way for a trial to be set for Tiller, and spokeswoman Ashley Anstaett of the Kansas Attorney General’s office told the Associated Press prosecutors now will move forward with the case.

Former Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison filed 19 misdemeanor counts, replacing a package of 30 much more serious charges that had been filed after a lengthy investigation by the previous attorney general and now Johnson County district attorney, Phill Kline.

A 1998 law requires that two doctors without financial or legal ties must agree that continuation of a pregnancy will inflict “substantial or irreversible” harm to “a major bodily function” of the mother. Pro-abortion state officials have interpreted that to include issues for the mother such as depression.

But documents revealed that throughhout 2003, Tiller used a physician for his second opinion who had a financial relationship with him, Ann Kristin Neuhaus of Nortonville. That’s an apparent violation of the law, officials said.

Tiller’s lawyers insisted to the Associated Press the decision doesn’t make their client guilty.

“Of course, Dr. Tiller is disappointed that the court did not take this opportunity to end his political prosecution and clear the huge roadblock that lies in the path of women who choose to exercise their right to get a lawful abortion in Kansas,” attorney Don Monnat said.

Pro-life leaders were grateful.

“I think the court has made the correct decision,” said Mary Kay Culp of Kansas for Life. “There was no doubt in our minds that the law was constitutional.”

WND recently reported Tiller had branched out and was using the services of several other doctors for the legally required second opinion, a move that created issues for the clinic at which they worked.

Operation Rescue publicly revealed that one of the doctors, Burt Odenheimer, had been assisting Tiller. Just hours later, officials with the Wichita Clinic, where Odenheimer works, confirmed in a news statement that Odenheimer and another physician agreed to no longer provide the second opinion for Tiller’s late-term abortion patients “starting immediately.”

For his arraignment, Tiller did not appear in court but surrendered to a sheriff’s department officer for processing after his lawyers entered a plea of innocent.