After anti-abortion groups raised complaints that a judge handling an abortion provider’s case would not be impartial, the case has been reassigned to a former anti-abortion Kansas state legislator. Dr. George Tiller, one of the few providers of later term abortions in the US, is facing 19 misdemeanor counts for allegedly seeking approvals on later term abortions from a physician with whom he had financial and legal ties. Dr. Tiller is disputing the charges and maintains his innocence. His attorneys also filed a motion yesterday to request a new presiding judge in the case.
The case was reassigned to Sedgwick County District Judge Anthony Powell on Friday because he was the “most available” judge to conduct a hearing, Judge Gregory Waller, who was formerly handling the case, told the Associated Press. Anti-abortion group Operation Rescue alleged that Judge Waller had previously received contributions from attorneys who had ties to Dr. Tiller. His replacement, Judge Powell, formerly served in the state legislature and was renowned for his anti-abortion crusades. At one point, Judge Powell called abortion “the slaughter of the innocents, the Wichita Eagle reports. Judge Waller insists he did not know of Judge Powell’s anti-abortion history when he handed the case over to him. f
An initial one-hour hearing on Dr. Tiller’s case was held on Friday. Judge Powell indicated that there will not be a ruling before September.