Kansas Judges Move Forward in Two Abortion Cases Last Week

On Thursday, Kansas District Judge Stephen Tatum dismissed 26 misdemeanor charges against the Kansas City-area Planned Parenthood Overland Park clinic. The clinic has been fighting a total of 107 criminal charges filed in 2007 by Phill Kline, former Kansas Attorney General and abortion opponent. Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe requested the misdemeanor charges against the Planned Parenthood Overland Park clinic be dropped since many of the key documents in the case, which the clinic had filed with the state health department, had been destroyed by the state health department in 2005.
“It is indeed a tragedy that it has taken this long for these charges to be dismissed,” said Pedro Irigonegaray, a Topeka attorney representing the clinic. “It is inconceivable to me to understand how such a high-profile case could be so incompetently handled.”

In November, Judge Tatum dismissed the most serious charges, including 23 felony and 26 misdemeanor charges against the clinic alleging that it had falsified records and failed to maintain accurate records in an effort to cover up later term abortions. Last month Howe said the expert retained to support the remaining 32 charges is too ill to serve as a witness. Moving forward, Judge Tatum set a scheduling conference to address the remaining charges on August 20.

On Friday in a separate case, Kansas Judge Franklin Theis refused to dismiss a lawsuit over new health and safety regulations for abortion providers before the case goes to trial. While state attorneys requested that the judge rule on this case without a trial, attorneys for two Kansas abortion providers argued that a trial was necessary to demonstrate why the regulations are unreasonable. The judge said that the issue involves medical questions that are beyond the common understanding.

Media Resources: Associated Press 8/3/12; Think Progress 8/3/12; San Francisco Chronicle 8/3/12; Kansas City Star 8/3/12; Feminist Daily Newswire 11/14/11

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