The Kansas Supreme Court determined guidelines today to limit the power of the grand jury investigating the case of Dr George Tiller, a late term abortion provider from Wichita. Dr. Tiller has been fighting the grand jury subpoena of private medical records of some 2,000 of his patients.
The Center for Reproductive Rights issued a press release in which Bonnie Scott Jones, lead attorney on the case and senior staff attorney at the Center for Reproductive Rights said, “We are extremely pleased that the court protected the patients’ privacy rights and ordered the lower court to control the citizens-petitioned grand jury. The legal system should not be hijacked by abortion opponents as a tool of harassment against an abortion provider. The lower court must now balance the grand jury’s need for records against the profound intrusion upon Dr. Tiller’s patients. If the court finds that the grand jury is justified in obtaining some of these records, there are a number of protective steps that absolutely must be taken before those records are turned over.”
The Associated Press reports that the Kansas Supreme Court did not quash the subpoenas or strike down the law allowing Kansas citizen’s to convene a grand jury. However, it did rule that the grand jury cannot engage in a “fishing expedition” into women’s private medical records.