Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison (D) filed 19 charges yesterday against one of the few providers of later term abortions in the US. Citing a 1998 state law that requires physicians to secure a second opinion that a continued pregnancy will cause death or harm to a “major bodily function” before performing an abortion after the 21st week, Morrison accused Dr. George Tiller of having inappropriate financial and legal ties to the physician who signed off on 19 later term abortions. Despite being misdemeanors, each charge carries a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $2,500 fine.
Attorney General Morrison’s charges are completely separate from the 30 charges filed by ousted anti-abortion Attorney General Phill Kline (R), which have since been dropped. Kline repeatedly targeted Dr. Tiller for years, requesting records of abortions performed at his Wichita clinic. Kline first alleged that he was investigating child rapes, but later admitted that he was really interested in whether Tiller’s clinic had violated late-term abortion statutes. In the 2006 election, Kline was resoundingly defeated by Morrison, a supporter of reproductive rights.
The charges do not imply that the 19 abortions in question were unjustified under Kansas state law. “Today’s announcement simply involves a difference of opinion between lawyers regarding unusual technicalities in Kansas abortion law procedure,” Dr. Tiller’s lawyers, Lee Thompson and Dan Monnat, said in a statement, according to the Wichita Eagle. “We will vigorously defend this misdemeanor case based on the evidence and a proper interpretation of the law.”
Dr. Tiller is scheduled to appear in court on August 7.