A federal appeals court ended former Kansas Attorney General Phil Kline’s quest to require health care providers and counselors to report all adolescent sexual activity, even kissing. Healthcare and counseling professionals, led by the Center for Reproductive Rights, challenged the constitutionality of the policy, and in 2006 a US district judge blocked its enforcement, ruling that it violated teens’ right to privacy. Undeterred, Kline appealed. But the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit dismissed the appeal this week on the grounds that the state’s new sexual abuse reporting law instituted in January made the case moot because it does not require reporting all adolescent sexual contact.
The “kiss and tell” policy was “part of a trend by the anti-choice movement to use child-abuse reporting laws to scare adolescents away from reproductive health care,” according to the Center for Reproductive Rights. In 2003, as part of his crusade against abortion, Kline issued an interpretation of the state’s child abuse reporting law, claiming that it required abortion clinics to report teen pregnancies as evidence of criminal sexual abuse. He then extended the ‘kiss and tell’ policy to require other health care professionals, teachers, and others to report any evidence of underage sexual activity, the Wichita Eagle reports. During his time as Attorney General, Kline became notorious for bringing charges against Wichita abortion provider Dr. George Tiller, which the Kansas Supreme Court dismissed.
“This is a great result for teenagers in Kansas, and for all those who care about protecting teen’s health and well-being,” said Bonnie Scott Jones, the lead trial attorney in the case. “Reporting suspected child abuse is one thing. But reporting all intimate conduct between adolescents simply drives a wedge between those young people and the professionals who are there to help them.”