- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline said the county judge who subpoenaed 90 medical records from abortion clinics last year did so to see if there was evidence of child rape or illegal abortions, not to violate patient confidentiality or privacy.

But the pro-life jurist agreed that his yearlong investigation into abortion-related criminal acts has touched off a lot of talk about illegal “fishing expeditions” and patient information protection.

“The targets are the clinics and the rapists,” Mr. Kline said in an interview this week. He said the 90 women and girls who had late-term abortions are not in criminal jeopardy. “They are the victims. Their privacy will always be protected.”

Pro-choice advocates like Nancy Northup of the Center for Reproductive Rights in New York said Mr. Kline has other motives.

“The attorney general in Kansas appears to be on a fishing expedition to violate the constitutional rights of patients in the state of Kansas by seeking their private medical records,” Ms. Northup said yesterday.

Referring to Mr. Kline’s clear opposition to abortion, Ms. Northup said the attorney general’s efforts to obtain unedited abortion records appear to be “an intimidation tactic against doctors and their patients.”

It’s a “scary trend,” she said, referring to a similar attempt by former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft to obtain abortion records.

Meanwhile, today lawyers for the two clinics targeted are expected to file final briefs in Kansas Supreme Court, which they have asked to intervene in the matter. The clinics also will hold a press conference today detailing their briefs, the first time either side has been able to speak since a gag order was lifted by the state high court.

“This whole matter, from our perspective, is about a covenant of confidentiality between a doctor and his or her patient,” said Peter Brownlie, chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri,, one of the targeted clinics. “We think it’s wrong for [Mr. Kline] to expect that any doctor would turn over the medical records of dozens of patients, based on the hunch that he may find evidence of crimes.”

Mr. Kline, who is in town this week for the National Association of Attorneys General conference, said his office spent more than a year obtaining information about suspected cases of child rape and illegal late-term abortions. Kansas law forbids abortion after 22 weeks of gestation unless it is necessary to save the mother from death or severe injury. The age of sexual consent is 16.

“When a 10, 11, 12-year-old child is pregnant in Kansas, the child has been raped and I will do all I can to protect the child,” Mr. Kline said. If there are violations of late-term abortions, he added, “I will prosecute for criminal late-term abortion.”

Last year, Mr. Kline presented evidence of illegal abortions to Shawnee County District Judge Richard Anderson, who in September ordered the Planned Parenthood clinic and Women’s Health Care Services in Wichita to give the court 90 medical records. All involve abortions performed at or after 22 weeks of gestation.

Once the records have been turned over, Mr. Kline said, “the judge, a doctor, as well as a guardian appointed for the children, would review the records.”

The patient names to be turned over to his office, he said, would be only those of minors “because we need to remove them from a predatory situation, if one exists, and protect them.”

In late February, lawyers for the two abortion clinics filed a brief asking the Kansas Supreme Court to intervene, which was reported by the Wichita Eagle. The Kansas high court this month agreed to intervene and lifted a gag order on the case.

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