Courts & Crime

Kansas high court returns Planned Parenthood case to District Court

TOPEKA, Kan. -- After a long delay, a criminal prosecution of Planned Parenthood’s Overland Park clinic may proceed, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled Friday.

Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri faces 107 charges that it falsified records and performed illegal abortions. Phill Kline filed the charges in 2007 when he served as Johnson County district attorney.

The case had been tied up in a dispute over subpoenas, but the high court returned it to the District Court, where it may proceed.

Friday’s decision is far from a big win for anti-abortion groups, however, because it imposes restrictions on what evidence can be used by prosecutors. A key set of state abortion records, for instance, is off limits, the court ruled.

It’s up to the current district attorney, Steve Howe, to decide whether to pursue the case.

“Our office is currently reviewing the decision, and we’ll then decide what our next course of action will be,” he said Friday afternoon. “It will take a little while.”

The charges against Planned Parenthood included 23 felonies. Kline argued that the group’s clinic performed illegal late-term abortions and falsified or forged documents to make it appear the abortions were legal.

Planned Parenthood denies the allegation and insists it doesn’t perform abortions after the 22nd week of pregnancy, the legal threshold for late-term abortions.

“There’s no validity to the charges in this case,” Peter Brownlie, the group’s president and CEO, said Friday. “What we really have at this point is the lingering vestiges of a political pursuit by Kline.”

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