Attorney General Paul Morrison of Kansas announced on Tuesday that Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Missouri (PPKM) and an independent clinic run by Dr. George Tiller, both subjects of an intense three-year long investigation, were found to have committed no criminal offenses.
In a letter to the clinic's attorney, Morrison wrote that after conducting an "objective, unbiased and thorough examination … we have found no evidence of any criminal wrongdoing … As a result, we will not be filing any charges …"
In addition, Morrison did not find enough evidence to charge Dr. Tiller with the 30 counts of misdemeanors he had originally been charged with.
The reason given for the intense scrutiny of the clinics, initiated by vocal, anti-choice advocate and former Attorney General Phil Kline involved "potential crimes" against patients. Kline believed that Planned Parenthood was concealing child abuse and rape crimes by not reporting them when patients seeking an abortion revealed them to clinic workers.
Kline believed that Dr. Tiller was performing illegal late term abortions, though a judge threw those charges out in 2003.
Kline requested information from over 90 patients' medical records from both the Planned Parenthood clinic as well as from the clinic run by Dr. George Tiller, claiming they might provide insight into these alleged crimes.
No one has been able to give an explanation for why abortion clinics should turn over the private medical records of their patients in order to see if some had revealed that they'd been victims of rape or abuse, while private practice medical doctors or other practices should not. If the goal is to "protect" young women and ensure that all health providers are "turning in" young women who have been victims, focusing solely on abortion clinics will do little to remedy the problem.
Attorney General Kline—or anyone for that matter—has no right to private medical records without patient consent—for whatever purpose one deems "necessary." In addition, as far as one can tell, the 90 patient medical records were plucked at random to attempt to unearth evidence from wherever Kline could dredge it up. The records most certainly were not chosen as specific cases of alleged victims of criminal activity—in that case, he could have gone directly to those women for evidence and not had to rely upon medical records. In fact, Kline stated that the women whose records he was seeking were not targets of his investigation.
Planned Parenthood complied fully with the investigation and made clear they had nothing to hide. However, under the umbrella of doctor/patient confidentiality, Planned Parenthood and Dr. George Tiller refused a judge's order to turn over the medical records citing patient privacy and appealed to the state supreme court, who agreed. Eventually, it was referred back to the local judge who mandated that edited records needed to be turned over to Attorney General Kline.
But when Morrison beat out Phil Kline to become Attorney General laast year, many anti-choice advocates expected that he would find Planned Parenthood and Dr. Tiller innocent of any criminal activity.
Unfortunately, the patient's private medical records are still with the local judge's office, though Planned Parenthood will attempt to get them back. Attorney General Morrison informed the clinic that Kline did still have access to the medical records but that Morrison would make every effort to "return all of the original, unredacted medical records" to Planned Parenthood.
There is also talk that Kline, now a district attorney in another Kansas county, may launch a second investigation. Peter Brownlie, CEO of PPKM says Kline's charges are baseless and the investigation is "without legal substance."