Wichita, KS — Oral arguments were heard today in a motion to dismiss 19 charges of illegal abortions against late-term abortionist George R. Tiller. The hearing was scheduled before Judge Gregory Waller, but was moved to the courtroom of Judge Anthony Powell this morning after the Associated Press published an article based on information released by Operation Rescue that revealed that Waller had received political contributions from Tiller attorney Daniel Monnat.
Judge Powell indicated at the onset of the hearing that an amicus brief had been filed by twenty Kansas Legislators in favor of the prosecution. He disclosed that he had served in the Legislature and that at least two of them may have given him campaign contribution in his initial campaign for judge. Both the Attorney General’s counsel and Tiller’s attorneys indicated that they did not object and trusted that those contributions would not affect the court’s decision.
“We are very happy this case is being heard by judge that is interested in openness. We believe that Judge Powell will rule impartially, and that is all we have really asked,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman.
Judge Powell exercised his discretion and accepted the amicus brief submitted by American United for Life over the objections of Monnat.
At issue was the Kansas statute under which Tiller was charged that states that two physicians who are not legally or financially affiliated must agree that the continuation of a pregnancy would cause a woman to suffer “substantial and irreversible impairment” before abortions beyond 21 weeks gestation can be done legally.
Attorney Lee Thompson made arguments on behalf of Tiller. He indicated that charges should be dropped because the law that Tiller was charged under is unconstitutionally vague as to the term “affiliated,” and that it created an undue burden on women.
Assistant Attorney General Jerad Maag argued that the vagueness argument was overblown and that the law satisfies the “undue burden” standard. He indicated that the State has a compelling interest in regulating post-viability abortions for the protection of women and the “viable fetus,” and that a second opinion gives the woman additional protections.
“While we were not overly impressed with the presentation from the Attorney General’s office, we do believe that the law is constitutional,” said Newman. “In fact, the problem all along has not been deficiencies in the law, but deficiencies in its enforcement. While we would welcome a conviction of any kind against Tiller, we believe that the charges filed by Morrison are selective enforcement, and that additional, stronger charges related to the abortions for trivial reasons should be filed.”
Judge Powell took the case under advisement and is not expected to issue a ruling before September.