July 13, 2012 — Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe on Wednesday told the court that an expert witness for the prosecution is too ill to testify against a Kansas Planned Parenthood clinic accused of performing illegal abortions, the AP/Kansas City Star reports (Hanna, AP/Kansas City Star, 7/11).
The suburban Kansas City, Kan., clinic is accused of violating a 2003 state law that bans abortions at or after 22 weeks of pregnancy if a doctor determines that the fetus could survive outside of the womb.
In November, Kansas District Judge Stephen Tatum dismissed 49 of the original 107 charges of allegedly falsifying documents and performing illegal abortions, including 23 felony counts of falsifying reports and 26 misdemeanor charges that the clinic did not maintain its own copies, as required under state law. Howe said he had no choice but to request dismissal of the charges after key state records were shredded. In April, defense attorneys asked Tatum to dismiss the remaining 58 misdemeanor charges (Women's Health Policy Report, 4/13).
Howe said his office is still trying to find a replacement for a physician and professor of obstetrics and gynecology who was supposed to testify about the remaining criminal charges, which relate to 29 abortion procedures. For each procedure, the clinic faces one misdemeanor count for allegedly not determining the fetus' viability and another for performing an abortion after 22 weeks.
Tatum scheduled another pretrial hearing for Aug. 17 and instructed Howe to respond to Planned Parenthood's request for dismissal by that time. Defense attorneys said the delay is unnecessary and expressed frustration that Howe has not yet responded (AP/Kansas City Star, 7/11).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership