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Judge Won't Reinstate Abortion Charges

Kansas' attorney general, a vocal abortion opponent, might leave office frustrated in his attempts to prosecute the state's most visible abortion provider.
( [email protected] ) Dec 28, 2006 02:40 PM EST

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas' attorney general, a vocal abortion opponent, might leave office frustrated in his attempts to prosecute the state's most visible abortion provider.

Attorney General Phill Kline suffered another setback Wednesday when a judge refused to reinstate 30 misdemeanor charges Kline had filed against Dr. George Tiller, alleging he performed illegal late-term abortions.

The same judge dismissed the charges last week.

Kline, a Republican who leaves office in less than two weeks, responded by naming a special prosecutor to pursue Tiller's case.

But he acknowledged that Paul Morrison, the abortion rights Democrat who ousted him from office in the November election, could abolish the special prosecutor's job after he becomes attorney general on Jan. 8.

And Sedgwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston said the special prosecutor will have no authority to file charges against Tiller in that county. She successfully argued twice in six days that Kline couldn't file charges because she didn't consent to it. If Tiller is prosecuted, she said, her office will do it.

"Our power and authority is to prosecute all of the crimes that occur within this county," Foulston told reporters. "You just can't walk in and make those filings without having gone through the regular hoops."

Kline filed his charges Dec. 21, accusing Tiller of illegally using the mental health concerns of patients, aged 10 to 22, to justify late-term abortions. He also alleged that Tiller failed to properly report details of his late-term procedures to state health officials.

District Judge Paul W. Clark dismissed the charges the next day at Foulston's request, citing the jurisdiction issue. Kline asked the judge to reconsider and Clark held a hearing Wednesday but ruled against Kline.

Tiller is among the few doctors in the nation who perform late-term abortions, which has made his clinic a target of protesters. Tiller's clinic was bombed in 1985, and a protester shot him in both arms eight years later.

Wichita attorney Don McKinney, who Kline named as the special prosecutor, didn't return a telephone message after the hearing.

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