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OLOATHE, Kansas, November 10, 2011 ( — A Kansas judge has thrown out 49 of the most serious felony and misdemeanor charges in the country’s first criminal case against Planned Parenthood, after it was revealed that key evidence in the case had been destroyed. However, 58 criminal charges related to unlawful late-term abortions will still move forward.

The dropped charges related to allegations that Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri had failed to keep proper patient records, and then forged records when they were requested during the investigation into the abortion provider.

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At the center of the dispute were copies of patient records obtained by former District Attorney Phill Kline, who launched the case against Planned Parenthood in 2007, and the original patient records submitted to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

But during a hearing Wednesday, District Attorney Steve Howe explained to Judge Stephen Tatum that former Attorney General Steve Six had destroyed the copies of Termination of Pregnancy (TOP) forms in 2009. The destruction took place after Kline had filed the charges and while the case was under appeal. Howe indicated that the destruction of the records may have violated the retention policies of the Attorney General’s office.

Last month, Howe stunned pro-life supporters when he told Judge Tatum that the original TOP forms submitted by Planned Parenthood to the KDHE had also been destroyed in 2005 “for reasons still unclear.”

Without the original forms or the copies obtained by Kline, Howe told the court that he was left with an incomplete set of copies, making the legal hurdles in continuing the prosecution of the felony charges “insurmountable.”

Planned Parenthood responded to the news by calling it “a significant victory” in a press release.

“While additional charges in this case remain, we are pleased the most serious charges have rightfully been dismissed. We are grateful Johnson County taxpayers and Planned Parenthood will no longer waste enormous time and money on these politically-motivated allegations brought by now discredited prosecutor Phill Kline.”

District Attorney Howe did express that he is proceeding on the remaining 58 criminal counts. The next hearing in the case was set for February 22, 2012.

Operation Rescue President Troy Newman, who was present at the hearing, described the chain of events as pointing to “a conspiracy to destroy evidence in order to protect Planned Parenthood.”

“The more we learn, the more apparent it becomes that former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is at the heart of this political corruption,” he alleged. “She appointed Six and controlled him and the KDHE under her administration. We must have an aggressive investigation of this scandal.”

Yesterday, Attorney General Derek Schmidt, who defeated Six in his 2010 bid for re-election, asked the Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office to conduct a full and independent investigation into the destruction of evidence against Planned Parenthood.

Newman expressed hope that the investigation would “be done impartially and without the political bias that tainted the Sebelius administration.”

“While we are disappointed and troubled that the felony charges cannot proceed, we are pleased that 58 very serious counts related to illegal late-term abortions are moving forward. There is still some hope that a small measure of justice can be achieved.”