Peter J. Smith

Phill Kline attorney makes witness sweat in Planned Parenthood ethics complaint case

Peter J. Smith
Peter J. Smith

TOPEKA, Kansas, February 23, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Monday’s ethics trial of Phill Kline over his criminal investigation of abortion provider Planned Parenthood kicked into high gear when the former attorney general’s (AG) defense counsel brought a vigorous cross-examination of the prosecution’s first witness.

As soon as the court resumed after lunch at 1:40 p.m., Kline’s chief counsel, Mr. Reid Holbrook, dissected the testimony of Disciplinary Administrator Stan Hazlett’s first witness against Kline, Veronica Derscher, a former assistant attorney general overseeing the criminal division.

Derscher first admitted under Holbrook’s questioning that the two times she and an associate met with Judge Anderson their remarks were not transcribed. While she disputed that her comments in January 2007 about Phill Kline before Judge Richard Anderson were “disparaging,” she seemed to concede that they were not favorable toward Kline, the former AG, who was by then District Attorney of Johnson County.

She said Anderson instead “wanted to talk about the merits of the case, and I didn’t want to do that.”

Holbrook also pointed out that Derscher said in a letter she did not want to “pander to [Judge Richard] Anderson” - a statement that she said was more illustrative of her frustration dealing with Kline having the abortion records.

Derscher backed off that morning’s statement to Disciplinary Administrator Stan Hazlett that Anderson told her, “I don’t believe you,” when she told him that Kline had taken the Tiller investigation file and medical records with him to Johnson County.

Holbrook pointed out that Anderson in sworn testimony stated that he told Derscher that he did not want to involve himself at the time in what looked to him like a political dispute.

“That is not what you told us this morning,” said Holbrook.

Derscher then said that Anderson actually just said “I acted skeptical, whatever, whatever” about Kline having the Tiller medical records.

Anderson found out April 9, 2007 about the transfer of the Tiller file to Kline’s DA office, and requested the file returned to the AG within a week by 5 p.m. Derscher admitted that this was done, although she was irritated that Kline held on to the records for those few months.

She also stated that she was frustrated Anderson would give them the Tiller file, while Kline was allowed to make summaries of those files on the day of Morrison’s swearing in as AG (January 8, 2007). But Derscher then admitted Holbrook’s point that there was no way to determine when Kline had made those summaries.

She also revealed that she decided to file an ethics complaint against Kline after the new Attorney General Paul Morrison said in response to a reporter’s question that he thought Kline was unethical in his investigation of Planned Parenthood and late-term abortionist George Tiller.

Derscher also had to explain that she had not performed an immediate inventory of files she received from Kline in January 2007 at the time she filed the ethics complaint against him. Instead the inventory process commenced six months later. Also, the cover of the 60 page spreadsheet inventorying the documents with the abortion medical records was also dated at least a year after she filed the ethics complaint against Kline, according to testimony given on the cross-examination.

In Holbrook’s questioning, she also admitted that no criminal case had been worked up against anybody over the handling of the abortion records - including Jared Reed, the investigator who sought and obtained immunity on advice of his lawyer because he was “nervous” over having kept a box containing redacted abortion records of Tiller’s patients at his apartment/house.

Testimony in the trial revealed the files had been kept at Reed’s domicile for a month (January to February 2007) while Kline transitioned into the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office, apparently at the recommendation of investigator Tom Williams who did not believe the DA office was secure during the transition phase.

Kline’s attorney also attacked Derscher’s insistence that the abortion records obtained by Kline were not redacted enough, and the identities of Tiller’s patients could have been known from the redacted records. He quoted Judge David King’s report that Kline did a sufficient redaction to be in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.

“Did medical records ever get out in the public domain?” queried Holbrook.

“No,” responded Derscher.

On the security issue, Holbrook pointed out that there had been thefts at the office, and former DA Paul Morrison (the incoming AG) had even installed a pinhole camera in the wall to catch employees stealing from the break room. There was no mention that any evidence or tampering had ever occurred in the evidence locker room.

He also added that Morrison had forbidden the Kline transition team from entering the Johnson county DA’s office until he became AG in January 2007. Derscher said she was “not in the vicinity” when Morrison threw Steve Maxwell, Kline’s lead prosecutor, out of the DA’s office.

Judge King’s findings also showed that Anderson said Kline could share the records with law enforcement, and that his Dec. 21, 2006 order to transfer the files from the AG office to the DA office in Johnson County was a legitimate move.

Holbrook’s cross-examination brought up that Kline’s charges against Tiller were deep-sixed by AG Morrison in favor of other criminal charges prepared by Derscher: the highly technical charges on which Tiller was eventually acquitted. Derscher admitted that the AG’s office conceded “yes” to Tiller’s defense attorneys’ stipulation that the abortion forms filed were correct - a fact Holbrook said lost the AG the case on the illegal late-term abortions.

Kline had pursued Tiller over failing to cite a specific medical reason for performing abortions on post-viable unborn infants past 22 weeks, and his charges stated that Tiller had not followed the law by simply parroting the law’s statutory requirements on the exception form.

Holbrook then asked why Kline was prevented from filing charges against George Tiller. Derscher said that Sedwick County District Attorney Nola Foulston had them dismissed by a judge because Kline lacked jurisdiction. Holbrook then immediately followed up asking how was it then that Morrison had jurisdiction to file his own criminal charges against the abortionist.

“Well, he asked Nola,” Derscher admitted.

“Nothing further,” said Holbrook, wrapping up Derscher’s time on the stand by 3 p.m.

The next witness called to the stand by Hazlett was Phill Kline.

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Ben Johnson Ben Johnson Follow Ben

State Rep who compared Planned Parenthood with ISIS moves to bar dismemberment abortions

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By Ben Johnson
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State Representative Isaac Latterell, R-Sioux Falls

PIERRE, SD, February 23, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The state representative who said that Planned Parenthood beheads human beings just like ISIS is calling for the state Senate to ban all forms of dismemberment abortion.

“Planned Parenthood is worse than ISIS,” said State Representative Isaac Latterell, R-Sioux Falls said when introducing H.B. 1230, the Preborn Infant Beheading Ban of 2015. The bill would make it a felony for an abortionist to behead an unborn child as part of an abortion procedure within the state limits.

“There are certain revolting methods of execution, such as beheading, that no state would ever permit, even against murderers who use this method on their victims,” Rep. Latterell said.

The House Health and Human Services Committee passed the bill last week by a 11-2 vote.

But not everyone was happy with the bill and the publicity it drew. (The same committee had killed a dismemberment and decapitation abortion ban last year.)

State Rep. Burt Tulson, R-Lake Norden, amended the beheading law to simply read, “The State of South Dakota recognizes the sanctity of human life.”

The full House passed the amended form of his bill by 65-3 on Thursday, February 19.

Rep. Latterell is now asking the state Senate to revise the bill again – to go beyond beheading and bar all forms of dismemberment of the unborn.

“I knew beheading was an abhorrent technique reserved for the likes of ISIS terrorists, but I did not fully appreciate how much pain the fetal dismemberment that takes place during dilation and evacuation (D&E) abortions causes the baby,” Latterell told LifeSiteNews. “I am confident when the Senate committee is finished with its hearing, Planned Parenthood's lies will be exposed. I look forward to banning dismemberment abortion once and for all.”

“Dismemberment abortion kills a baby by tearing her apart limb from limb,” said Daniel Woodard, a Columbus School of Law student who testified for the bill.

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Introducing such a bill would put South Dakota in the mainstream of the national pro-life movement. The National Right to Life Committee has made banning dismemberment abortions a national focus. The same day that the South Dakota House passed Latterell's bill, the Kansas state Senate passed the Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act.

Other states, including Oklahoma and Missouri, have introduced legislation to end the most common form of second-trimester abortion, as well.

The amended H.B. 1230 had its first reading in the state Senate on Friday.

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Hilary White Hilary White Follow Hilary

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Detaching ‘pastoral practice’ from Catholic doctrine is a ‘dangerous schizophrenic pathology’: Vatican cardinal

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By Hilary White

ROME, February 23, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Another highly placed Vatican Cardinal has corrected the “progressivist” proposal to offer Holy Communion to Catholics who have been divorced and remarried or who are in other “irregular” sexual unions. The highly respected Cardinal Robert Sarah, recently appointed to the office overseeing the Church’s liturgical practices, says that attempting to detach Catholic teaching from “pastoral practice” is a form of “heresy.”

“The idea that would consist in placing the Magisterium in a nice box by detaching it from pastoral practice – which could evolve according to the circumstances, fads, and passions – is a form of heresy, a dangerous schizophrenic pathology,” Cardinal Sarah said.

“The African Church will strongly oppose any rebellion against the teaching of Jesus and the Magisterium,” he added.

The Guinean cardinal is the prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and Sacraments, but until recently was serving as the head of Cor Unum, the office overseeing the Church’s charitable activities. In his former job, given by Pope Benedict XVI, Cardinal Sarah was spearheading efforts at reforming the umbrella organization, Caritas Internationalis, as it brought its policies into line with Catholic moral teaching, particularly on contraception and abortion.

The cardinal made the remarks in a book of interviews to be published this week by the French language press, Fayard. Titled “Dieu ou rien” (God or Nothing), the book is described as “frank personal thoughts” on the cardinal’s life, including on “the ideological neo-colonialism in Africa exercised by the decadent West.”

On the various crises of the African continent, he said, “I want to strongly condemn a desire to impose false values ​​using political and financial arguments.” 

He said that in some African countries, “ministries dedicated to gender theory” have been created in order to legitimize the ideology. “These policies are all the more hideous inasmuch as the majority of the African population is defenseless, thanks to the fanatical Western ideologues,” Cardinal Sarah said. 

In the book the cardinal also addresses euthanasia, calling it “the most acute marker of a society without God,” and “subhuman.” But he adds that he has seen an “awakening of consciences,” particularly among younger people in North America who want to overcome “the culture of death.” 

“God was not asleep, he is really with those who defend life!”

Since the “suggestion” on Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, made at last year’s consistory, and pushed hard at the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in October, by the German Walter Cardinal Kasper and his followers, the Catholic Church is increasingly being shown to be deeply divided at the highest levels and on some of the Church’s most fundamental and definitive issues. While it was frequently commented that the African bishops were on the whole strongly opposed to the Kasper Proposal, the West’s view of the “African Church” as a conservative monolith has been refuted. At least one African bishop has indicated that he outright supports Kasper’s proposal, repeating much of the rhetoric of the Kasper supporters in and out of the Vatican.

Gabriel Palmer Buckle, the archbishop of Accra in Ghana, and one of the bishops chosen to attend the next Synod in October, is quoted by long-time American Vaticanist John Allen saying that he is ready “to vote yes” on allowing divorced and civilly remarried Catholics receive Communion.

John Allen wrote that the Ghanian archbishop “supports allowing local bishops to make those decisions on a case-by-case basis, and also believes that’s the result Pope Francis wants from the October summit.”

“When a person comes to me, I think I should be able to sit with him or her, or with the family, to find out what the situation is and to give solutions to individual cases without making a sweeping statement,” Palmer-Buckle said.

“It’s not a matter of issuing a new law,” he said. “As for the doctrine [on marriage], I don’t think the Church will change. It’s a question of how we help individuals.”

He added also that the “case-by-case” approach is favored by Pope Francis. “The truth of the matter is that the Holy Father is pushing towards that, when he talks about collegiality,” he said.

The archbishop echoed the phrases and jargon – such as the invocation of “gradualism” and “accompaniment” – used by both the Vatican and Kasper’s supporters during and immediately following the 2014 Synod.

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“The Holy Father has made it clear that the Church’s doctrine [that marriage is always indissoluble] remains the perfection point, the point of arrival, but we are all wounded,” Palmer-Buckle said. “That’s why Christ came, for the sick, the wounded, the needy.”

“If we look at our own pastoral challenges, there must be room to listen and to see how we can pastorally accompany whoever wants to belong more and more to Christ.”

He also reiterated Kasper’s own statement that the proposal is not intended to change Church teaching: “It’s not a matter of issuing a new law…As for the doctrine [on marriage], I don’t think the Church will change. It’s a question of how we help individuals.”

Others have strongly refuted this thesis, including high-level cardinals, who have said that a change in the practice would simply make the doctrine irrelevant to most Catholics.

With the next session of the Synod still eight months in the future, the sides in the argument are rapidly forming. A few days ago, US Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin, joined the growing chorus of opposition, saying, “Only what is true can ultimately be pastoral and we cannot carry out something else and call it pastoral, if it doesn’t embody the truth.”

“Certain doctrines are embodied in certain practices and even if you don’t change the doctrine in writing, in a written document, if you change the practice you have changed what the previous practice embodied.”

In January, another Vatican curial official, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, gave a lecture in Germany strongly refuting the underlying theory of the Kasper Proposal. With Cardinal Sarah, Piacenza explained that it is incoherent to suggest that the Church’s “pastoral practice” could possibly be placed in opposition to her doctrine.

Speaking to a group of priests and seminarians, Cardinal Piacenza said, “When in Christianity mercy and truth are presented as antagonistic, or at least as contradictory, it is always the result of a partial perception.”

“It is hardly conceivable that there could be such a strong emphasis on mercy to the detriment of truth. Or, its opposite, a strong emphasis on truth to the detriment of mercy.”

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Eric Metaxas

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What Uncle Sam giveth, he can taketh away: Our rights are from God, not government

Eric Metaxas
By Eric Metaxas

February 23, 2015 (BreakPoint.org) -- During a recent appearance on CNN, Roy Moore, the chief judge of Alabama’s Supreme Court, debated the issue of same-sex marriage with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, the son of the late New York governor Mario Cuomo and the brother of New York’s current governor, Andrew Cuomo.

During the discussion, Moore said that “Our rights, contained in the Bill of Rights, do not come from the Constitution. They come from God. That’s clearly stated in the Declaration of Independence.” Cuomo then responded “Our rights do not come from God, your honor, and you know that. They come from man.”

Cuomo added that the idea of God-given rights is “your faith [and] my faith, but that’s not our country. Our laws come from collective agreement and compromise.”

I can’t help but wonder which country Cuomo is referring to. After all, the Declaration of Independence, by way of justifying the enormous steps the Founding Fathers were about to take, states “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” And “That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men . . .”

These words, which previous generations of American school children were made to memorize, set forth an order that is 180 degrees from that suggested by Cuomo: first comes the Creator, who then endows his creatures with “certain unalienable rights,” and then the creatures form governments to “secure those rights.”

In essence, Cuomo is resorting to a kind of legal positivism, that is, the idea that “law is a matter of what has been posited,” something “ordered, decided, practiced, [or] tolerated,” and is not based on any deeper truth.

But that approach has serious flaws—as our own history bears out. In the run-up to the Civil War, for example, defenders of slavery appealed to the text of the Constitution, which permitted slavery without mentioning it by name. Opponents of slavery, or at least those against its spread into the territories, such as Lincoln, appealed to the Declaration of Independence and its ideas about God-given rights.

Sticking to man-given rights and appealing to “collective agreement and compromise” as Cuomo insists upon doing, would not have ended slavery.

However, if our nation’s leaders agree with Cuomo that the rights we possess are those the government has deined to give us, that would go a long way to explaining the erosion of religious liberty we are witnessing in the U. S. After all, the same government that can create a right to abortion and same-sex marriage can also take away the rights of freedom of religion and freedom of association. This may yield the results folks like Cuomo want, but it undermines the very foundation of human rights that we all claim to hold dear.

And that is really what’s at stake. Years ago on this program, Chuck Colson said that human rights are “based on our most fundamental beliefs about humans being created in the image of God.” Our “rights are not conferred by government, and so they cannot be denied by government.” It was this belief that led Chuck to draft the Manhattan Declaration in defense of human life, marriage, and religious freedom.

More than half a million Americans have signed the Manhattan Declaration. So if you have not, or if you haven’t even read this vitally important defense of our rights and freedom, please come to BreakPoint.org, click on this commentary, and I’ll link you to it.

Chris Cuomo was right about one thing: God-given rights are what our faith teaches. If that’s no longer true about “our country,” Heaven help us all.

Reprinted with permission from Break Point. 

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