A judge on Wednesday refused to dismiss the criminal case against Kansas late-term abortionist George Tiller, who has been accused of violating the state’s late-term abortion law.
Pro-life groups have argued that Tiller’s connections with Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius are a major problem for the governor, who is one of President Obama’s top choices to become U.S. Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services.
In 2007 Sebelius hosted a governor’s mansion dinner for the late-term abortionist, which he purchased as part of a fundraising event for the governor. Tiller has also raised funds for other politicians in the state.
On Wednesday, Sedgwick County District Judge Clark Owens ruled that former prosecutor Phill Kline’s conduct did not warrant the dismissal of the charges against Tiller. The judge also refused to throw out evidence in the case.
According to the Associated Press, Tiller is scheduled to go on trial March 16 for 19 misdemeanor charges alleging he failed to obtain a second opinion for some late-term abortions from an independent physician, which Kansas law requires.
Tiller’s lawyers have accused Kline and his office of misconduct and illegally gathering evidence. Kline, a pro-life Republican, began investigating abortion clinics as Kansas attorney general from 2003 to 2007.
“While Phill Kline testified that he would like for all abortions to be outlawed, his investigations made no attempts to prevent lawful abortions from being performed in the State of Kansas," Judge Owens wrote in his ruling.
He noted that Kline’s successor as attorney general, pro-abortion “rights” Democrat Paul Morrison, took over the case and filed the charges against Tiller.
“Once the investigation was assumed by Attorney General Paul Morrison, the acts of Phill Kline could not have tainted the investigation and prosecution of this case,” the judge wrote.
Phil Kline's “procedures have certainly been questioned by the Kansas Supreme Court, but his conduct in the investigation does not merit the sanction of the dismissal of the charges or suppression of evidence,” Judge Owens continued.
Judge Owens also said the Kansas Supreme Court’s December ruling on Kline’s handling of copies of medical records from Tiller’s abortion clinics found that Kline had not violated any law.
In December’s ruling, the high court refused Planned Parenthood’s demands that Kline relinquish all medical records he had acquired in his investigation involving alleged illegal late-term abortions and the falsification of documents.
However, the Kansas Supreme Court was divided in its opinion.
Justice Carol Beier criticized Kline for engaging in an "obvious and sorry pattern" of "willful disregard" and called him "demonstrably ignorant, evasive, and incomplete" in his written responses. She speculated that actions of Kline could be revealed that might merit civil or criminal contempt charges or other disciplinary action.
On the other hand, Chief Justice Kay McFarland criticized Justice Beier and other justices for using the court’s power of sanction merely “to provide a platform from which it can denigrate Kline for actions that it cannot find to have been in violation of any law and to heap scorn upon him for his attitude and behavior that does not rise to the level of contempt.”
Kline supporters argued that Justice Beier purposefully juxtaposed a favorable ruling with denigrating language and accused the media of misreporting the decision.
Responding to Judge Owens’ Wednesday decision, Tiller’s attorneys said they had hoped that taxpayers might be spared the “expensive security and litigation of this hyper-technical political trial.”
Kline’s attorney, Caleb Stegall, told the Associated Press the ruling vindicated the investigation conducted by Kline.
"No investigation and set of prosecutions in Kansas has ever been subject to the level and intensity of scrutiny that this investigation has borne,” Stegall said.
Operation Rescue President Troy Newman said the decision “brings us one step closer to justice.”
“We continue to pray that true justice will be served on behalf of the innocent, viable babies wrongfully killed by Tiller,” he said in a Wednesday statement.