What’s the saying, “Old habits die hard?” Well that’s exactly what Phill Kline’s motto should be as District Attorney of Johnson County, Kansas. He can’t seem to stop harassing women and doctors, and snooping around for information regarding women’s medical records. He is clearly and unequivocally sticking his nose in a place where it does not belong. Some people across the state even question his authority as DA to file such a complaint in his home county.
Phill Kline’s charges against Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri in Overland Park, Kansas are part of another attack on women’s rights. On Wednesday, October 17, Kline filed 23 felony and 84 misdemeanor counts. They range anywhere from accusations of providing false information to failure to maintain medical records to providing unlawful late-termination of pregnancy. This should not come as a surprise to anyone who knows about Kline’s previous track record as an anti-choice zealot.
Kline’s crusade to shut down abortion providers and harass women began back in October of 2003, when sealed subpoenas showed up at Women’s Health Care Services and at Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood. That was four long years ago. Due to the gag order on the subpoenas, the general public and the press did not learn about his fishing expedition until early winter of 2004. In those subpoenas, Kline asserted that the clinics were guilty of wrong doing, which lead to numerous years of litigation. Unfortunately, this is an extension of that case, only with Kline now as the District Attorney of Johnson County instead of as the Attorney General of the State of Kansas.
Initially, Kline spun his zealotry as protection of children from child rapists, even though the vast majority of the records that he sought were for adult women who had had abortion procedures. It did not take long for the media to see through this politically motivated ploy. However, the case raged on, with the real threat of women’s privacy being violated.
It became clear that the only way Kline was ever going to stop his trolling for women’s medical records was for him to lose his AG seat. Due to his blatant misuse of his governmental office and extravagant expenditures, he lost his position to Paul Morrison by a 16 point margin, which was remarkable given the Republican vs. Democratic registration in this state, and given early polling numbers in the race. These numbers showed just how fed up and tired Kansans are with his one-issue-ax-to-grind-agenda.
And now, less than a year later, Kline is at it again, prosecuting as Johnson County DA. Taxpayers should wonder if Kline’s charges hold any value, or if the attack is purely for political purposes. When in reality, most of Kline’s time is spent on his battle to shut down abortion clinics, and to take away your right to choose.
Peter Brownlie, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri told the Associated Press that the clinic did not perform any abortions past the 22nd week of pregnancy and that they always provide high-quality care for their patients. Clinics, including Dr. Tiller’s clinic in Wichita, have been under attack since 2002 when Kline was elected attorney general. Since Kline opposes abortion, he is abusing his position to keep women from having access to it. With these charges, Kline is attempting to shut down these clinics and limit women’s right to choose. He is further pushing women into becoming second-class citizens.
The first hearing is scheduled for November 16, but one has to wonder if Kline’s charges will even hold up in court. A spokeswoman for Attorney General Morrison said he had reviewed the current accusations, and found no crimes or misconducts, and questioned Kline’s political influence behind the charges.
With anti-choice zealots like Kline in office, we cannot let our focus or our efforts wane. We must be diligent when protecting women’s rights, as women are not truly free and equal in our society until we have the autonomous decision-making power regarding our reproductive lives. If there is no equity when it comes to reproduction, there is no equity in education, jobs or relationships.
As a state and as a country, politicians have undervalued women’s rights, especially reproductive rights, for too long. We cannot stand by and allow our elected officials to decide what is right and moral for the women of this nation.
By Julie Burkhart