Wichita, KS – Judge Paul Buchanan ruled today that medical records must be handed over to a grand jury investigating illegal late-term abortions at George R. Tiller’s Women’s Health Care Services under the condition that identifying information about the patients be redacted. The records will then be provided to an independent attorney and physician appointed by the judge. They will screen the records to determine if there are irregularities before turning them over to the grand jury.
“Today’s ruling is a victory for truth and justice,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman, who was present during the court hearing.
A cadre of six attorneys was in court on Tiller’s behalf for another failed attempt to persuade Judge Buchanan to quash subpoenas that had been issued by the citizen-called grand jury, which is asking for nearly 2,000 abortion records over the past five years. Tiller’s legal team was joined by Bonnie Scott Jones of New York’s Center for Reproductive Rights, who argued on behalf of three former Tiller patients that the records be denied or heavily redacted for privacy considerations.
“The privacy that they seem so worried about is just a red herring to deflect attention from any wrongdoing Tiller may be trying to hide. There will be no way to identify individual women from the redacted records, nor would there be any reason to do so. We find it shameful that Tiller would hide behind the skirts of his patients in an effort to protect himself from having to turn over potentially incriminating evidence,” said Newman.
Jones told the court of one of her clients, who had a late-term abortion by Tiller because her baby suffered from serious fetal anomalies. However, fetal anomaly is not a legal reason to obtain late abortion in Kansas.
“Bonnie Jones basically admitted in open court that Tiller gave one of her clients an illegal abortion,” said Newman. “I found it shocking that she could describe in detail her client’s reasons for having the abortion and not understand that. She is either grossly ignorant of Kansas law, or so arrogant that she does not flinch at admitting to the illegal abortion. Either way, it is obvious that the lawyers are more concerned with covering for Tiller than protecting patient privacy, or she would not have given so much medical detail in court.”
Lee Thompson, Tiller’s lead attorney, said he intends to file another mandamus action with the Kansas Supreme Court asking for a stay. In the meantime, the process of producing the records will begin on Thursday morning.