Hours after the outgoing attorney general of Kansas charged one of the nation’s few late-term abortion providers with illegally aborting viable fetuses, a judge dismissed the charges, ruling Friday that the attorney general had overstepped his authority. [….] Kline’s last-minute push to charge Tiller before he leaves office was dismissed on the grounds it violated a 19th century statute outlining the attorney general’s duties.
Kline, who is Operation Rescue’s “Man Of The Year” for 2006, was rejected by the voters at least in part because of his fanatical anti-abortion views. He’s not through making trouble; the article reports that he’s already planning to use his next gig, as a county-level district attorney, to harass a Planned Parenthood office.
Here’s the part of the article I found most interesting:
Last year, Dr. George Tiller reported aborting 240 viable fetuses at his Wichita clinic because the pregnant woman was at risk of irreversible harm.
Anti-abortion activists have long contended that Tiller’s diagnoses are flimsy. Seeking to verify those suspicions, the attorney general pressed a two-year legal battle to get access to Tiller’s medical records. Charts for about 60 patients were turned over to him in late October.
The 30 charges Kline filed against Tiller — all misdemeanors — center on 15 of those patients. According to court records, all were approved for abortions because they suffered anxiety or had experienced an episode of “major depressive disorder.” Among them were several young teens and one 10-year-old, all of them in their late second or early third trimesters.
Kline maintains that depression is not a valid reason for a late-term abortion under Kansas law because the woman’s major bodily functions are not irreversibly threatened. Allies in the anti-abortion community agree: “This is a loophole that Tiller’s trying to exploit,” said Troy Newman, director of Operation Rescue.
But the U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that any restrictions on abortion must include an exception for the pregnant woman’s health, including her mental well-being. The Kansas Supreme Court reminded Kline of that precedent last year.
“I believe I have complied with the spirit of the law and with the letter of the law,” Tiller said in an interview in June 2005, one of very few he has given in recent years.
On Friday, Tiller’s lawyers said he is “wholly innocent” and “has operated his practice under a microscope of scrutiny from the public and regulatory authorities.”
Tiller’s clinic — one of just three in the nation that perform late-term abortions — draws patients from as far as California, Vermont, Florida and Puerto Rico. Many have discovered late in their pregnancies that they’re carrying fetuses with genetic abnormalities or fatal deformities. Some are suicidal. A few, Tiller said, fear their relatives will disown, beat or even kill them for conceiving out of wedlock.
“They are absolutely desperate, for whatever reason, to terminate the pregnancy,” Tiller said in the 2005 interview. “I will never know in my heart and soul what that [feels like]. But I think it must mean as much to a woman to be told she can’t have an abortion as it does for a patient with cancer to be told that nothing can be done for him.”
The pro-life movement has committed itself to opposing health exceptions to abortion bans. But Dr. Tiller’s statements reflect a reality that pro-life fanatics ignore: There are real reasons that late-term abortions are needed; the suffering that some individual women will deal with, if pro-life fanatics get their way, will be horrible. Proposing to do away with health exceptions, including mental health exceptions, is proposing that the well-being of women (and girls) is not a relevant concern under the law. A more misogynistic view is hard to imagine.
(Also, that Operation Rescue’s “man of the year” opposes a mental health exception for a pregnant 10 year old vividly illustrates how little concern or compassion the pro-life movement has for post-birth children, doesn’t it?)