"Good Kansans" Enable Abortionist Tiller to Stay in Business


Regional/ Kansas City:


© Jack Cashill

July 2, 2007

The Rotarians of Johnson County, the most prosperous and populous county in Kansas, are solid citizens and good Kansans all.

They work hard, raise their kids responsibly, volunteer for any number of good causes, vote largely Republican, and begin their weekly meetings with the Pledge of Allegiance.

And yet last November, a majority of them voted to keep the notorious Wichita abortionist, Dr. George Tiller, in business. To be sure, they did not think of their vote in those terms.

As the Kansas City Star told them, and the Johnson County Sun, and all the local TV stations that take their cue from the Star, and even the local talk radio guys who follow Rush and Sean, incumbent Attorney General Phill Kline had to go.

Kline was a zealot, a “theocrat,” who was trawling through the private medical records of innocent young women in the hope of spearing his own ideological white whale, the law-abiding Tiller.

Through various PACs and cut-outs, Tiller invested several hundred thousands of his own dollars to reinforce the “Snoop Dog Kline” message.

Fortunately for Kansas—or so the media told the Rotarians--popular Johnson County District Attorney Paul Morison heard the outcry of the people, switched parties to run as a Democrat, and stopped the “out-of-control” Kline in his tracks.

Last week I spoke at a Johnson County Rotary Club. I was invited in my role as executive editor of the regional business magazine, Ingram’s.

Not wanting to embarrass my host, I sought and got clearance in advance for my topic: namely, why Kansas, the reddest of red states, has emerged as the world capital of late term abortions.

I do not exaggerate here. Girls and young women from all 49 states and most European countries have followed their own yellow brick roads to the abortionist behind the curtain in Wichita.

In a recent front-page column in the Johnson County Sun, Morrison-backer Steve Rose acknowledged Tiller’s boast that he has “more experience in late abortion services with fetuses over 24 weeks than anywhere else in the Western Hemisphere, more than 60,000 since 1973.”

What Rose did not say is that, for the last ten years at least, very nearly every one of these abortions has made a mockery of Kansas state law.

Rotary Clubs are not used to hearing talks on abortion politics. One fellow walked out in something of a huff. Most of the other 50 or so in attendance politely avoided me at talk’s end.

But a good half-dozen men were effusive in their thanks. They had never heard someone address the subject in an open discussion. And that is precisely the problem. Tiller’s allies monopolize the major media.

In the age of the Internet, however, the media cannot quiet all dissent. Pro-life groups have kept a steady pressure on Morrison and in June made his life all the more uncomfortable when they brought Dr. Paul McHugh to Kansas.

Before leaving office, Kline had contracted with the impeccably credentialed psychiatrist to review the Tiller files to see if they honored Kansas law. They apparently did not.

When asked whether he had seen any one file among the fifteen in question that justified a late term abortion on the basis of “substantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function,” physical or mental, McHugh unequivocally responded, “I saw no file that justified abortion on that basis.”

He was confident too that “100 percent” of his fellow psychiatrists would agree that these cases showed no sign of irreversible damage.

After six months of irresolution on the charges against Tiller that Kline had pressed before leaving office, Morrison chose Thursday afternoon, June 28, to announce their disposition.

This was a classic news dump. That morning the immigration bill had died in the U.S. Senate and sucked all the air out of the conservative media. Morrison dropped his announcement into the vacuum.

His press conference was stunningly ugly and disingenuous. He spent the greater part of it promoting his own record and attacking Kline for a wide variety of offenses, all of them either imagined or irrelevant.

Morrison noted how “ironic” it was that Kline did not file charges until the end of his term, “all the while knowing that I [Morrison] would have to deal with that.”

As Morison knew, however, it was not Kline who manufactured the irony, but Tiller. He and his allies had fought for two years to keep the medical records away from prying eyes until the courts finally decided for Kline.

As Morrison surely suspected, Tiller had much to hide. But the way Morrison interpreted the relevant statute, it did not matter whether a woman actually faced death or impairment as long as two financially and legally unaffiliated doctors said she did.

This nuancing of the law allowed Morrison to showily dismiss all of the charges Kline had brought and ridicule Kline for bringing them.

Lest he be accused of a total whitewash, Morrison had to charge Tiller with something. And so he noted that the two doctors sanctioning the abortions--Tiller himself and a Dr. Kristin Neuhaus—were, in fact, affiliated, and this relationship “thwarts the letter of that statute.”

Morrison seemed to be following the game plan leaked to the Sun’s Steve Rose a few weeks earlier: file a few misdemeanor charges, suggest a modest fine, and call Kline’s “witch hunt” off.

“Unless the Kansas Legislature changes its law,” Rose added, “Dr. Tiller can continue [late-term viable abortions] every day of the week, as well as other late term abortion techniques.”

The Star, the winner of Planned Parenthood’s national “Maggie” award, bought the strategy. “Doctors must scrupulously follow the law,” its editorialists comically opined.

They praised Morrison’s “honesty and respect for the law” and heaped even more scorn on Kline given the “disturbing details” Morrison revealed about his work.

But Tiller did not get to be a stone cold abortionist in a deep red state by being stupid. Both and he and Neuhaus are denying a financial affiliation. This is likely true. Apparently, the wily Tiller did not pay Neuhaus for her opinion. The patients did directly.

“I think [Morrison] is making a strained interpretation of the law,” said Neuhaus’s attorney.

And while the lawyers dicker anew, Tiller continues to mock Kansas law by killing perfectly healthy, viable babies for reasons no more serious than a girl’s anxiety about missing her prom or a rock concert.

“I had to ask myself,” said McHugh of Tiller’s clinic, “is any person ever found to be not appropriate on psychological grounds for an abortion?”

The prominent mental health experts, Tiller and Neuhaus, evidently did not think so.

In watching all of this take place, I have to ask myself whether we judged too harshly those “Good Germans,” who turned a blind eye to Nazi inhumanities. In Kansas, we don’t even have a Gestapo to explain our passivity.

Still, I expect more of our Rotarians. And I remain hopeful that they will deliver.

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