- The Washington Times - Friday, November 3, 2006

Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline’s criminal investigation into Kansas abortion records is dominating the race for the state’s top law-enforcement job — and may cost him his job.

A recent SurveyUSA poll shows Mr. Kline, a Republican, trailing his Democratic opponent, Johnson County District Attorney Paul Morrison, by 13 points. This marks a dramatic turnaround from September when Mr. Kline, a former legislator known for his pro-life views, led the race by three points.

A key issue is Mr. Kline’s lengthy court battle, publicly revealed in 2005, to investigate 90 abortions for evidence of criminal activity, including some performed late in pregnancy, on children, teens and women at two Kansas abortion clinics.

His office recently received 90 court-reviewed medical records — minus personal identifying information — and prosecutors are reviewing the documents, said spokeswoman Sherriene Jones.

If they find evidence of child rape, incest or late-term abortions performed in violation of state law, they will take action against the sex offenders, clinics and doctors, she said. Mr. Kline has emphasized that the women and girls who received the abortions are victims and will not be identified or prosecuted.

Pro-choice forces say Mr. Kline’s actions are a serious violation of privacy, and they have thrown their support to Mr. Morrison, who has called Mr. Kline’s abortion probe a “personal agenda” and “abuse of authority.”

Mark Simpson, a spokesman for Mr. Morrison, said yesterday that the candidate has said that, if elected, he will “assess the situation in the office” and “take appropriate action” in accordance with the privacy of Kansas medical records.

Peter Brownlie, president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, which runs one of the clinics in the case, said yesterday he was “confident that there is nothing in the redacted records … that causes us any concern legally.”

Pro-life advocates say Mr. Kline’s novel actions not only enforce Kansas abortion law but set an example in abortion-related criminal investigations.

Attorneys general routinely gain access to medical records in all sorts of cases, “but if suddenly they’re not allowed to have them in the abortion context — that makes this attorney general’s race extremely important,” said Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life.

Ms. Jones said Mr. Kline is campaigning hard with other Republican candidates and “we believe we will prevail on Tuesday night.” The abortion records investigation, she said, has “no set time line” and “will move forward” like any other criminal investigation, regardless of next week’s outcome.

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