This is the fourth and final part of a four part series exploring the Sedgwick County grand jury investigation of abortionist George Tiller in the death of Christin Gilbert. The information is based on that provided by a confidential source inside the grand jury process that spoke to Operation Rescue on condition of anonymity.
“Part One: What Really Happened To Christin Gilbert?” deals with the irregular events surrounding the third trimester abortion and death of a young Down syndrome teen last year, from the perspective of the grand jury.
“Part Two: Inside the Grand Jury” covers the grand jury process and their frustrations with being prevented from accessing important information from records and witnesses, and how that lack of information narrowly prevented them from issuing indictments.
“Part Three: The Cover-up” explores the four areas of obstruction that the grand jury faced and how a “fraternity” of officials have protected Tiller.
Today’s article will focus on unanswered questions about the grand jury’s inability to gain access to information and witnesses, and what must now be done to bring justice for Christin Gilbert and her baby.
Part Four: Unanswered Questions And What Must Be Done
Wichita, KS — A Sedgwick County grand jury that was convened earlier this year through the citizen petition process has concluded their work and disbanded without issuing an indictment against abortionist George R. Tiller in the death of a Down syndrome teen, Christin Gilbert. While some portrayed this lack of indictment as exoneration for Tiller and his staff, a source inside the grand jury process has told Operation Rescue surprising details of that investigation that are raising new questions about Gilbert’s death and efforts to cover it up.
“Wishy-washy” Neuhaus-Tiller Arrangement
Christin Gilbert reported to Tiller’s Women’s Health Care Services on Monday, January 10, 2005, and was evaluated at the abortion clinic by former abortionist Kristin Neuhaus of Lawrence, Kansas.
The grand jury source told Operation Rescue that Neuhaus has an arrangement with Tiller to come to his clinic in Wichita on Monday or Tuesday each week and evaluate his late-term abortion patients to see if their abortions fall within the scope of Kansas law (KSA 65-6703).
The law states, “(a) No person shall perform or induce an abortion when the fetus is viable [22 weeks or later] unless such person is a physician and has a documented referral from another physician not legally or financially affiliated with the physician performing or inducing the abortion and both physicians determine that: (1) The abortion is necessary to preserve the life of the pregnant woman; or (2) a continuation of the pregnancy will cause a substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.”
The grand jury source told Operation Rescue that the Gilbert family directly paid Neuhaus with a personal check. Since Neuhaus is paid by each client separately from Tiller, the determination was made that the two are not financially associated with each other, according to the prevailing interpretation of the law.
“This is just not an honest interpretation of this law, and certainly violates the original intent of this legislation,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. “These two are in obvious collaboration to circumvent the Kansas ban on post-viability abortions for mutual financial gain. Late abortions can cost as much as $18,000 each. If Tiller does ten per week, which is a conservative number, you can do the math. That is a lot of money.”
Tiller provides Neuhaus with free office space on prearranged days in return for her services and access to his patients, from whom she profits. Once Neuhaus signs off on the abortion, Tiller is able to charge his fees. If Neuhaus did not sign off on an abortion, Tiller would be out thousands of dollars. This is a financial affiliation in every sense.
Of the arrangement between Neuhaus and Tiller, the source said, “It was wishy-washy to be honest with you.”
“An Act of God” not forthcoming
One of the exceptions to the Kansas post-viability abortion ban is to save the life of the mother. Testimony was given to the grand jury that indicated that Christin was perfectly healthy and in the third trimester of an uncomplicated pregnancy on the day she reported to Tiller’s clinic. How would carrying the baby to term threaten Christin’s life? There were no answers to that question given to the grand jury.
Also problematic with KSA 65-6703 is the wording referring to “substantial and irreversible impairment of a bodily function.” Which bodily function of Christin’s did Neuhaus determine would be substantially and irreversibly impaired by carrying her baby to term?
A grand jury member asked to see the cancelled check and Neuhaus’ records, which should have indicated her reasoning behind signing off on Gilbert’s third-trimester abortion, but was told by prosecutor Ann Swegle that it would take an “act of God” to get those documents. They were never produced.
A grand jury member also asked Neuhaus if there was ever a time when she did not sign off on a post-viability abortion. At that point, according to the source, Neuhaus pled the Fifth Amendment to avoid having to answer on the grounds that her answer might incriminate her.
“The information that the grand jury requested was critical to determining whether Kansas Law had been followed,” said Newman. “Denying the grand jury access to those documents obstructed the jury from making any determination about the legality of Christin Gilbert’s third-trimester abortion.”
24-hour waiting period ignored?
After her “evaluation” by Neuhaus, Christin was then immediately sent to Carhart who began the abortion process on her. Kansas’ “Women’s Right to Know Act,” KSA 65-6701, requires that a woman receive certain state mandated information 24 hours prior to receiving an abortion. What happened to the 24-hour waiting period in this case?
The grand jury source indicated that the family told the grand jury that they returned to their home in Texas from a week long vacation cruise on Sunday, January 9, 2005. They did not unpack, but drove immediately to Wichita that afternoon with Christin for her abortion appointment.
“Christin had signed — scratched like a first grader — Christin and Mom signed. Dad didn’t sign anything,” the source said, referring to the documents giving consent of the abortion that were signed at Tiller’s clinic on January 10, 2005, the day her abortion began.
There was no time for the 24-hour waiting period after receiving the information required by law.
“Does the 24-hour waiting period mandated by state law not apply to disabled women who have guardians making life and death decisions for them?” asked Newman.
Mysterious Tear and the Gross Misuse of RU 486
The following day, Christin delivered her dead baby in the family van enroute from the hotel to the abortion clinic. Why was Christin not taken to the clinic sooner? Why was she allowed to undergo labor at the hotel, which was not equipped to handle medical emergencies, and not at the clinic where she could have been more closely monitored?
After arriving at the clinic, the source told Operation Rescue that Carhart performed a D&C on Christin, and repaired a suspicious “tear in the uterus.”
“We couldn’t get anybody involved to testify about this,” said the source, referring to the uterine tear. They were told by representatives from the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts (KSBHA) it was just “standard protocol.”
Carhart then administered the dangerous abortion drug RU 486 as an “insurance policy” to make sure everything had been expelled from the womb.
A D&C procedure is one where a spoon-shaped curette is inserted into the uterus. It is used to scrape clean the uterine walls. RU 486 is designed to cause early abortion by tricking the body into believing it is not pregnant, triggering the uterine lining to slough off. It is usually given in combination with another drug that stimulates uterine contractions. RU 486 has proved to be extremely dangerous and is responsible for the deaths of at least 6 women since 2001.
The grand jury looked carefully at this. They were given access to the medical records of women who died from RU 486 complications, including those of Holly Patterson, a California woman who died from an RU 486 abortion at a Planned Parenthood clinic. Based on their comparison between those records and Christin’s, the source strongly believes that the misapplication of RU 486 contributed to Christin Gilbert’s death.
“Her symptoms were identical to many other women who died from that [RU 486]. Identical. I mean identical to a ‘T,’” the source said. “I’m not a medical doctor, and I’m not smart on those topics, but that’s what my conclusion was.”
“The use of RU 486 on Gilbert was completely off the label and irresponsible,” said Newman. “If a doctor cannot competently perform a D&C, he is incompetent to practice medicine. There is just no gray area here or any question. Carhart’s misuse of RU 486 put Christin’s life at risk and may have killed her. That is not ‘standard protocol’ in anyone’s book.”
Yet, the KSBHA inexplicably continues to insist that the “standard of care” was not violated in Gilbert’s case nor was anything in her treatment outside “standard protocol.”
“I believe the average thinking person can clearly see that is not true,” said Newman.
Kansas vs. Alabama
The KSBHA handling of Gilbert’s case is completely inconsistent with the way similar cases have been handled in other states. Recent events in Alabama contrast heavily with Kansas’ response to this abortion death.
In February of 2006, a woman was misprescribed RU 486 for a late-term abortion at Summit Medical Center in Birmingham, Alabama. Six days later, she later delivered a nearly full term 6 pound, 4 ounce dead baby at a local emergency room.
The State of Alabama health officials closed the abortion mill on May 17, pending further investigation. The medical license of abortionist, Deborah Lyn Levich, a Georgia resident operating in Alabama, was suspended and the Alabama attorney general launched an investigation into the abortion business.
On June 20, Summit Medical Center voluntarily surrendered its license, rather than reveal to the investigating authorities the shoddy conditions that existed there.
Then on August 14, their investigations led the State of Alabama to close Reproductive Health Services, a Montgomery abortion clinic, saying inspections revealed a lack of emergency medical arrangements with a hospital and other issues. Health department officials determined that the clinic “constitutes a danger to public health and welfare.”
Currently, Alabama health officials are revising abortion clinic regulations for their state after determining that the laws were unclear during the investigation of the now defunct Summit Medical Center in Birmingham.
“We need to make sure the rules say what we’re intending them to say,” said Rick Harris, Director of the State Bureau of Health Provider Standards.
Meanwhile, in Kansas, the KSBHA insists the death of a healthy Down syndrome teen from a botched third-trimester involving the misuse of a dangerous abortion drug and a torn uterus did not violate “the standard of care” and has blocked a grand jury investigation from accessing details about the victim’s treatment.
“The Kansas governor continues to veto clinic regulations bills that would provide inspections and minimum standards for abortion clinics,” said Newman. “Then, to top it off, we have convoluted interpretations of current laws restricting abortions that make the laws essentially null and void. Kansas has prided itself on having just about every imaginable kind of ‘pro-life’ legislation, but we don’t have the laws we think we have. It is a sad joke.”
A number of factors contributed to the inability of the grand jury to get the information they needed to make informed decisions. The grand jury was denied access to the two doctors responsible for Christin’s abortion, George Tiller and LeRoy Carhart. The way these two men dodged testifying implies cover-up and guilt.
Tiller pled the Fifth Amendment through his attorney then took advantage of a legal loophole that would have strung out the grand jury process as long as eighteen months if they were to compel him to testify. This lack of access to Tiller frustrated the jurors.
Carhart simply evaded subpoena by staying out of Kansas. This raises some very serious questions about the subpoena process as handled by prosecutor Ann Swegle. The grand jury had discovered the doctor rotation at Tiller’s abortion clinic and planned to meet two days during the week Carhart was scheduled for work. When they arrived at the courtroom, the jury was told that Carhart would not be appearing because he did not come down to Kansas from his home near Omaha, Nebraska.
How was it that Carhart knew a subpoena was waiting for him? Was he tipped off by someone in the District Attorney’s office? Is tipping off a grand jury witness so he can avoid subpoena unethical conduct?
It is known that a Texas grand jury subpoenaed Tiller in their investigation into Christin’s sexual assault. If the State of Texas can issue a subpoena in the State of Kansas, why would the prosecutor not issue a subpoena for Carhart in Nebraska?
Carhart obviously did not cooperate with the grand jury investigation. If there was nothing to hide, why did he not testify and clear his name of any suspicion in Gilbert’s death?
DA Connections to Tiller, Sebelius
The District Attorney’s handling of the case contributed to the lack of information the grand jury received. DA Nola Foulston is well known in Wichita as a pro-abortion democrat who is friends with George Tiller. Rumors of a deeper connection with Tiller have circulated for years.
A newspaper article published in The Oklahoman on December 30, 1993, indicates that Tiller has used arranged adoptions as paybacks for political favors. About the time this was in the news, Nola Foulston admitted in an interview with the Wichita Eagle that she and her husband, Steven, adopted a son ‘through a friend,’ and not through traditional channels. Foulston refuses to discuss the day she met her son or details of the adoption.
Did Foulston adopt her son through her friend, George Tiller, as the widely circulated rumor insists? If so, did that influence her appointment of Ann Swegle, a loyal Democrat who has given campaign contributions to pro-abortion Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as the prosecutor in the Tiller grand jury? Did Foulston give Swegle instructions to take a “hands off’ approach?
Of the prosecutor, Swegle, the grand jury source said, “She was very articulate but not very personable. She was very good with putting things together, but we did not get the right information. She was totally ‘out here’ [gesturing away from the group] and we were either going to figure it out ourselves or we were not going to figure it out.”
“The DA wouldn’t say anything unless we asked them stuff because that’s how it’s set up. You [the grand jury member] are the investigator; they are there just to guide you. How do you know how to be guided if you don’t know what to ask for?”
“District Attorney Nola Foulston’s part in this matter needs to be looked at more fully,” said Newman. “The saying goes something to the effect that a good prosecutor will be able to indict a ham sandwich. There are a lot of questions there that were not answered and too much information denied the grand jury. The responsibility for that has to lie with the DA’s office.”
Need for reform
It is obvious that several areas need to be addressed by the State of Kansas in order to avoid more tragedies of this kind in the future.
First, the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts is in desperate need of reform. Their arrogant, condescending attitude, and stonewalling prevented the grand jury from accessing important information about Christin’s care. The agency, which is under the direct authority of Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, is protecting dangerous abortionists at the expense of public safety. Politically motivated findings have no place in such an organization, yet the KSBHA releases such findings on a regular basis. The corruption of this organization must be addressed.
Secondly, an independent investigation is needed into the misapplication of the dangerous drug RU 486. The Kansas Legislature should consider banning its use in this state in the interest of public safety.
Third, abortionist LeRoy Carhart should be the subject of a separate investigation.
“We have not ruled out convening another grand jury to investigate Carhart,” said Newman.
The grand jury source clearly indicated that he interfered with the paramedics who were summoned to the clinic on the day Christin Gilbert died. There was a torn uterus that no one has explained and missing notations on Christin’s records about the amount of fluids she received for suspected dehydration. There has been no documentation or testimony of her treatment by Carhart for the 45 minutes between the time that Christin suffered cardiac and respiratory arrest at the clinic and the time the paramedics arrived and pulled Carhart off of her while he was attempting to push fluids from her stomach.
“He dodged the grand jury summons and never testified. There is more than enough suspicious activity on his part in Christin’s death, and someone needs to hold him accountable for it,” said Newman.
Fourth, the abortion laws in Kansas need to be enforced or rewritten.
“It is nonsensical to have a law that bans post viability abortions, yet contains loopholes that allow a clinic to be the world’s foremost provider of late-term abortions,” said Newman. “The portion of the law that prohibits the two consenting doctors for late-term abortions from having financial associations is a joke. The Neuhaus-Tiller collaborative must be investigated and their little late-term abortion ring broken up.”
“We urge the Kansas Legislature to take a hard look at the laws that are just not working and amend them to mean what they were intended to mean,” said Newman.
Also, the lack of training on the part of Tiller’s staff should be addressed. Kansas law should provide minimum educational and training requirements before someone is allowed to assist in an abortion, especially the more dangerous late-term procedures.
“It is shocking that Tiller can simply hire an uneducated person off the street, give them a mere six weeks of training, then expect them to be competent to assist in surgeries,” said Newman. “My dog’s vet currently has to meet stricter requirements than abortion workers. It is no wonder there have been so many botched abortions requiring emergency hospitalization at Tiller’s abortion mill.”
Unless Kansas is willing to reform, it is assured that more tragedies like Gilbert’s are inevitable.
Reform must come in the political arena where cronyism and pandering to the abortion lobby must cease. The KSBHA needs to be depoliticized. Trading political advantage for the lives of women simply must not be tolerated.
Laws must be reformed to mean what they are intended to mean. Loopholes need to be closed that allow abortionists like Tiller to profit from activities that are meant to be banned in the State of Kansas.
Investigations into the suspicious actions of Neuhaus and Carhart must be allowed to go forward unimpeded by those who know Tiller, or have a vested interest in protecting him and his large campaign contributions.
“I think this grand jury has revealed a lot of areas in Kansas that must be changed in the interest of public safety,” said Newman. “Kansas officials must be willing to root out corruption and restore protections to the women and their pre-born babies. Anything less is a miscarriage of justice. Innocent girls like Christin Gilbert and her baby deserve better.”
Perhaps the grand jury source said it best, “We were very frustrated to sit on that to try to make decisions on all the things the petition was asking for, and we couldn’t make decisions because we couldn’t get anyone involved to speak. We couldn’t get anyone to say anything.”
“So here we are trying to put this together. We’re understanding what’s going on here, but we can’t make a judgment call when nobody has said anything to allow us to judge them.”
The source concluded, “These laws, these things have to be changed because all you’re doing is letting these people walk.”