Kansas 'Rodeo Exception'
© Jack Cashill
“Horses are my life and having kids would mess that up for barrel racing,” so said a 15 year-old who hoped to abort the healthy, viable baby that she had already carried for more than six months.
The year was 2003. Our confused little cowgirl had come, alas, to the right place, Dr. George Tiller’s clinic in Wichita, the world capital of late term abortions. Tiller promptly invoked the Kansas “rodeo exception” to the state prohibition on late term abortions. A second physician, Dr. Ann Kristin ( Kris) Neuhaus, confirmed the rodeo exception, and the baby was executed with the utmost privacy, and all for only about $6,000.
Unfortunately, the only false detail in the story above is the rodeo exception. One can excuse the girl in question for thinking there was one, but there was not. To abort her baby, Tiller had to ignore the state’s tough abortion laws. This he could do in 2003, and for the next six years, only through the protection of his political patron, then governor, now Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius.
The perverse details of Tiller’s practice finally came to light this past week not through a hard-hitting media investigation or a criminal probe, but through an anodyne and under-reported Kansas Board of Healing Arts hearing into Neuhaus’s confirmation protocol.
According to actual Kansas law in 2003, a doctor could abort a healthy, viable baby only if he and a second independent physician agreed that the abortion would prevent the mother from suffering a “substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function” or save her life.
Thus, for the official state record, Tiller interpreted the hurt that might accompany the temporary loss of barrel racing as “substantial and irreversible.” Neuhaus, after a 15 or so-minute review using a computer-generated answer tree, gave the girl her official diagnosis, “major depression, single episode.” And this girl at least got a review. In one case discussed at the hearing, Neuhaus approved the abortion a week after it took place.
Tiller spent millions keeping case record statements like, “Horses are my life” out of the hands of prosecutors. In the 2006 election alone, he invested close to $2 million. He had to. For the three previous years, Republican Attorney General, Phill Kline had plied an unsympathetic state judiciary to get access to Tiller’s case file, and he was finally poised to succeed.
Tiller and his political patrons, chief among them Sebelius, resisted at every step. To block Kline, Sebelius persuaded a popular Republican district attorney to switch parties and run against Kline on her ticket. The Democrats, Tiller’s paid proxies, and the media then launched a vicious campaign to portray “Snoop Dog Kline” as a “panty-sniffer” with no greater interest than invading the privacy of Kansas women.
So relentless were TheKansas City Star’s attacks on the “anti-choice extremist” Kline that he lost the election, and the Star won Planned Parenthood’s top media honor, the “Maggie Award,” named for its eugenicist founder, Margaret Sanger.
Sebelius and her running mates all won. To commemorate the historic sweep, she hosted a party at the governor’s mansion for Tiller and his staff. The fact that Tiller was still a subject of a criminal investigation at the time seemed to bother no one, at least not judging from the photos. http://bit.ly/pwHnhL
To be sure, had it been known at the time that Tiller was routinely aborting babies fully capable of living outside the womb for no better reason than they might interfere with their mother’s barrel racing, neither the Star nor Sebelius would have dared support him.
The barrel racing case was hardly an exception. Expert witness Dr. Liza Gold of Georgetown University testified last week at the Neuhaus hearing that none of the eleven case files she reviewed, all for girls 18 and under, justified a late term abortion.
“Teen pregnancy is not a risk factor for psychiatric disorders,” Dr. Gold testified when challenged by Neuhaus’s attorney, adding, “Late term abortion is not a treatment or intervention for any psychiatric condition.” For the record, virtually all of the thousands of late term abortions Tiller performed on healthy babies were for “mental health” reasons.
Gold was not alone in her opinion. At Kline’s request, Dr. Paul McHugh of John Hopkins reviewed fifteen case files just before Kline left office. McHugh stated publicly that he “saw no file that justified abortion” according to the state’s late term abortion laws. He openly asked of Tiller’s practice, if “any person [is] ever found to be not appropriate on psychological grounds for an abortion?”
McHugh never got to testify. In fact, when he came to Kansas City in 2007, Sebelius’s new attorney general sent him a menacing letter demanding that he “cease and desist from all public comment” about his work.
Sebelius, like almost all elected Democrats, has made a fetish out of “privacy”--not to protect the girls in question, and certainly not to protect their babies, but to shield people like Tiller and his industry from public scrutiny.
That shield worked so well that Tiller was widely hailed as a martyr when he was murdered in May 2009. As Newsbusters reported, the media could not praise him enough. ABC's World News Sunday and Good Morning America featured 1991 footage of Tiller insisting, "I have a right to go to work. What I am doing is legal. What I'm doing is moral. What I'm doing is ethical."
NBC's Nightly News showed a clip of Tiller stating, "You simply cannot retreat when you're committed." Former NOW president Eleanor Smeal told NBC, "People don't understand the need for this service, that women's lives are saved, but he did. And he was brave enough to keep going."
ABC's World News Sunday featured a fellow Lutheran parishioner defending the abortionist: "The church has stood back behind Dr. Tiller, I think we all have, because he was a Christian, good man."
CBS' Julie Chen interviewed a Tiller lawyer who lamented, “If Dr. Tiller is not here to serve a woman's right to choose, who will be here to do it?”
ABC's Diane Sawyer asked another Tiller lawyer, "Given the controversy and given the danger, why was he committed to doing this?” The lawyer answered, "The fact that he is one of, if not the only one of too very few doctors who perform these services speaks to his dedication and his courage throughout his life."
Did any of these people know that Tiller was casually sacrificing fully viable babies in full indifference to the law and for no better cause than, say, barrel racing? The truth is, they did not want to know. The least bit of light could undo this whole unholy business.
By the way, worst case scenario: Neuhaus loses her license.
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