If the Kansas disciplinary board for lawyers had a 10-run mercy rule as in Little League, the three-lawyer panel sitting in judgment on the “ethics” of former state attorney general Phill Kline would have called its hearings off after day one.
Kline was that good. Cool, unflappable, knowledgeable and more polite than most mortals would have been under similar circumstances, he continually turned the table on his inquisitors and introduced evidence they had hoped would never see the light of day.
In a Kakfaesque turn of events, Kline is fighting for his law license. First as attorney general of Kansas, and then as district attorney of the state’s most populous county, Kline had brought criminal charges against the state’s two prosperous abortion clinics, one run by Planned Parenthood in suburban Kansas City and the other by the late George Tiller in Wichita.
After spending millions to drive Kline out of office, a task made possible only with the blind support of the McClatchy-owned newspapers in Kansas City and Wichita, the state’s abortion industry has hoped to make an example out of the one prosecutor in the nation who dared to bring charges against Planned Parenthood.
The industry has been aided and abetted in its task by a Kansas State Supreme Court, most of whose justices were appointed by former Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius.
An unblushing partisan, Sebelius celebrated her 59th birthday at a party in her honor thrown by the local Planned Parenthood then openly under criminal investigation by Kline.
As the hearing unfolded on Monday of this week, one could see how the dependably Republican Kansas could have emerged as the world’s late-term abortion capital.
Jack Cashill’s literary investigation uncovers revelations galore about Obama’s alleged life narrative. Order the new book “Deconstructing Obama: The Life, Love and Letters of America’s First Post-Modern President”
This is not an exaggeration. On his website, Tiller had boasted of having “more experience in late abortion services with fetuses over 24 weeks than anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere, more than 60,000 since 1973.”
In a state where politeness rules, few have been willing to speak of the horrors perpetrated under the cover of law. Hannah Arendt’s memorable phrase, “the banality of evil,” all too perfectly describes the soft-core madness of the state bureaucracy.
One classic bureaucrat, court-appointed “disciplinary administrator” Stanton Hazlett, has been responsible for making the case against Kline. Think town clerk “Howard Sprague” in Andy’s Mayberry.
Among the 16 or so allegations the soft-spoken Hazlett has brought against Kline is that his “unethical” appearance on “The O’Reilly Factor” compromised the cases in play.
The clinics had been the first to level this charge against Kline, the state attorney general at the time, but two previous court-appointed panels and a district court judge had since rejected it.
Said the author of one comprehensive report completed in 2008 – but buried until 2010 when unearthed in discovery – “[We] do not believe that the statements made on the O’Reilly Factor ‘imperiled the privacy of the patients’ or jeopardized ‘the law enforcement objectives at the heart of the proceedings.’”
Undeterred by past rulings, Hazlett played “The O’Reilly Factor” in question for those in the hearing room. Not one for euphemism, Bill O’Reilly talked on-air about Tiller “killing babies … for just about any reason.”
Such plain talk obviously did not sit well in the always civil corners of the state judiciary. Accordingly, Hazlett asked Kline, “Would you agree with me that’s pretty inflammatory stuff?”
“The whole topic is inflammatory to many different groups of people,” Kline responded. When Hazlett challenged O’Reilly’s use of the phrase “killing babies,” Kline calmly answered, “That’s what abortion is.”
“That’s your opinion,” said Hazlett brusquely. “No,” said Kline, “that’s medical science.”
In fact, Tiller had been routinely performing late-term abortions in total indifference to the state’s tough abortion laws.
As the Kansas law reads, a woman could have an abortion on a viable baby only to preserve her own life or to prevent “substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function.”
During the give and take of the hearing, Kline challenged Tiller’s reporting. He questioned, for instance, how Tiller could classify a girl’s worry about not being able to compete on the rodeo circuit as “a substantial and irreversible impairment” of anything.
This abortion-justifying detail had earlier been made public by the impeccably credentialed psychiatrist Dr. Paul McHugh, whom Kline had recruited to evaluate Tiller’s reporting.
After reviewing 15 Tiller patient files and using Kansas law as his guide, McHugh said at the time that he had seen “no file that justified abortion.” This fact also surfaced in the hearing much to Hazlett’s discomfort.
More troubling for Hazlett, Kline was able to reveal what had inspired him to investigate the state’s abortion clinics in the first place, namely their failure to report child rape.
Under state law, any girl under 15 who reports a pregnancy is the presumed victim of at least statutory rape. As medical facilities, the abortion clinics are obliged to report these cases to the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS).
As Kline revealed, his office had found 166 instances when girls this age, one as young as 10, had received abortions at the clinics of either Tiller or Planned Parenthood. But during this same time period, Kline testified, Planned Parenthood and Tiller had each reported only one case of child rape to SRS.
True to form, Hazlett seemed less disturbed by the unreported child rape than by the fact that Kline did not inform SRS of the purpose of his investigation. In response, Kline cited state law to the effect that investigators could conceal the object of the inquiry lest they jeopardize the investigation.
Only one allegation shook Kline out of his studied cool. When Hazlett asked him to confirm whether he had launched his investigation without a definitive complaint, Kline answered in the sarcastic affirmative, “Yes, a child has not come forward and reported that my rape had not been reported by Dr. Tiller.”
Although Tiller was murdered after being cleared in a sham trial staged half-heartedly by Kline’s Democratic successor as attorney general, Planned Parenthood still faces the 23 felony counts brought by Kline.
The motivation behind this legal grotesquerie seems to be that, if Kline is found culpable, no one will have the will to pursue the charges against Planned Parenthood.
Those following the case in the comically biased local newspapers surely believe that Kline will be found culpable. Those 16 spectators who have been seated daily in the tiny hearing room have different expectations.
They are not so naïve as to expect justice from so transparent a witch hunt, but Kline, they feel, may have been persuasive enough to thwart the intention of the witch hunters.
The hearing continues into next week. Stay tuned.