|Planned Parenthood case continues, minus felony forgery charges|
November 9, 2011
by Kathy Ostrowski, KFL Legislative Director
District Judge Steve Tatum today dismissed 23 felony charges and 26 related misdemeanor charges against Planned Parenthood because the original paperwork critical to proving the charges was destroyed by state officials in 2005.
58 misdemeanor charges for illegal late-term abortions remain to be prosecuted, and the next hearing is scheduled for Feb. 22.
The paperwork in question are the ‘Induced Termination of Pregnancy’ compliance forms (called ITOPs) submitted monthly to the state by abortionists, with a copy required by law to be kept in the patient medical file. ITOPs do not include the patient’s name or other personal identifiers, but they do include critical information about late-term viability and the medical reasons that banned abortions were performed.
Planned Parenthood allegedly failed to keep patient file copies of ITOPs and then allegedly committed the more serious felony-level crimes of recreating the forms when they were requested. Until he was gagged from testifying in the case, District Judge Richard Anderson had said in open court that a police forgery expert backed up those suspicions.
Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt has scheduled a press conference for this afternoon. He has been officially assisting in the Johnson County prosecution of Planned Parenthood, unlike his Sebelius-selected predecessors, Paul Morrison and Steve Six. (UPDATE: AG Schmidt orders investigation CJ Online HERE and AP Story HERE.)
Current Johnson County District Attorney, Steve Howe, explained that he was did not believe the felony charges could be won since the administration of AG Six destroyed ITOP evidence in his office on April 7, 2009. Those ITOPs had been held in the Attorney General’s office after Kline’s term was over and Howe said the destruction appeared to violate the AG policy on such matters.
The 107 total criminal charges against the Kansas City suburban Planned Parenthood had been originally filed on Oct. 17, 2007 by then-Johnson County District Attorney, Phill Kline, using state records he obtained under court order in 2004 when he was Attorney General.
Two weeks ago, DA Howe dropped the bombshell that it had only recently been discovered that the evidence for this case (the original ITOPs from 2003) had been shredded in 2005 by the state health department (KDHE).
KDHE had never volunteered-- in defense filings or personal court appearances-- that the paperwork had been shredded as the case dragged on for years with interventions from past AGs Morrison and Six, and the state Supreme Court. There has been no comment yet from the KDHE defending the destruction of records which were known to be part of an ongoing and highly-charged investigation.
A state paper record-purging policy has been discovered, although DA Howe mentioned that similar paperwork from the other clinic under investigation by Kline had not been destroyed until 2010.
Kansans for Life Executive Director, Mary Kay Culp, attended today’s hearing and said that Planned Parenthood’s attorney again went on a diatribe against Phill Kline and how the case had always been without merit. Culp commented:
“Despite Planned Parenthood’s pathetic efforts to once again use Phill Kline as a distraction, the facts are that two judges found probable cause to believe Planned Parenthood committed felonies, and the only reason it can’t be proved is selective and purposeful destruction of evidence at what may have been the very highest level of Kansas government.
At least four things need to happen:
- A full scale investigation of the destruction of evidence by current AG Schmidt,
- possible ethics charges against former AG Steve Six and co-conspirators,
- a vigorous prosecution of Planned Parenthood by D.A. Howe for the remaining charges of illegal late-term abortions, and
- a full review of this case in its entirety by the Kansas Legislature.”
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