Kansas DA drops all criminal charges against Planned Parenthood clinic
CBS/AP) TOPEKA, Kan. - A Kansas prosecutor on Friday dropped all remaining criminal charges against a Kansas City-area Planned Parenthood clinic accused of performing illegal abortions, ending what was believed to be the first attempt in the U.S. to prosecute a facility affiliated with the group.
Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe announced that 32 misdemeanor charges against the clinic had been dismissed. Those charges were the last part of a criminal case filed in 2007 by Howe's predecessor [Phil Kline].
The clinic originally faced 107 criminal charges, including 23 felonies accusing it of falsifying copies of reports on abortions it had filed with the state. All of the allegations stemmed from abortions performed by the clinic in Overland Park in 2003.
Most of those charges were dismissed over the past 10 months for various reasons, leaving only counts related to allegations that 16 abortions violated a state law restricting late-term procedures when a fetus is viable. The remaining counts alleged that the Planned Parenthood clinic had performed illegal abortions after failing to properly determine whether a fetus was viable.
Howe said in a statement that "extensive research" by his office determined the clinic's practices were "within accepted practices in the medical community." He said he reached the conclusion after consulting with Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt.
"The remaining disputes between experts in the medical field amount to a reasonable medical debate which the U.S. Supreme Court has declared unacceptable grounds for criminal prosecution," Howe said in his statement.
The decision is likely to anger abortion opponents. One group, Operation Rescue, called on Howe to resign earlier this month, when other charges were dismissed.
Pedro Irigonegaray, a Topeka attorney representing the clinic, said: "Finally, the truth comes out."( Collapse )