Planned Parenthood demands complete secrecy for abortion evidence in criminal trial
OVERLAND PARK, Kansas, June 13, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – A Planned Parenthood affiliate charged with criminal abortion activity is demanding that a Kansas judge prevent already heavily-redacted medical records from public scrutiny, a move which prosecutors are saying would give the abortion provider a higher standard of privacy than that given even to rape victims.
The case in Johnson County District Court involves 107 criminal charges (including 23 felonies) related to illegal late-term abortions filed against Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri.
Planned Parenthood attorneys filed two motions with Judge Stephen Tatum requesting that the court set up a computer system to insure that no one attending the public trial can see the evidence against CHPPKM except for the judge, jury, and attorneys. The attorneys claimed that the Planned Parenthood was concerned over patient privacy.
The evidence against CHPPKM involves client abortion records extending back to 2003, which then-Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline obtained through subpoena. The files were heavily redacted beyond federal requirements, and followed the strict redaction rules imposed by the Kansas Supreme Court, in order to prevent any possibility that the identity of abortion clients would be discovered.
Planned Parenthood attorneys also wanted the Induced Termination of Pregnancy (TOPs) reports generated by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) to be kept private. The forms do not contain patient names or the name of the abortionist, but contain generic information that has to be reported to the state and is available to the public. They are also heavily redacted.
The motions were filed in advance of a hearing scheduled for July 15.
Johnson county prosecutors say Planned Parenthood is trying to set a higher standard of protection for itself that the court does not even extend to evidence submitted in sexual assault or child pornography cases.
“Notwithstanding the competing rights – of the defendant to a public trial, of the media to a public trial, of the public to a public trial – these measures are unnecessary (and perhaps unconstitutional),” objected Assistant Johnson County District Attorney Christopher L. McMullin in a formal response filed with the Court on May 25, 2011.
Attorneys for CHPPKM also demanded that they be immediately notified if prosecutors opted to subpoena further KDHE records, so they may object.
McMullin, however, objected that the criminal defendant Planned Parenthood “has no standing to object to the issuance of such a subpoena, and no authority to insinuate itself into the process for handling the forms should they be retained.”
The prosecutor also said that CHPPKM’s demand to hide the redacted evidence from the public (which includes the press) was asking for special treatment that even more sensitive cases did not get. McMullin emphasized the DA’s office has “vast experience in presenting evidence of a sensitive nature in open Court.”
“For instance, this office routinely prosecutes sexual assault cases. Victim records, including colposcope photographs of genitals, are presented in court, in a discrete manner. Pornography depicting minors is routinely presented in court. Are these items any less deserving of privacy and respect?” continued McMullin. He said prosecutors intend to follow the “clear direction” already established by the Kanasas Supreme Court. “There is no need for expensive, complicated additional procedures to correct a problem that does not exist,” he said.
“After viewing an example of the redactions that are already in place, Planned Parenthood’s demands for special treatment become ludicrous, if not comical,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. “They are using ‘smoke-and-mirrors’ arguments to make it appear that privacy is at issue when it is not. There’s no doubt that Planned Parenthood is more concerned about keeping ‘private’ evidence of their guilt, than they are about women.”
Two attorneys from Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) are also involved in CHPPKM’s legal defense, in addition to their own two Kansas attorneys. If the abortion provider is convicted of felony charges, Planned Parenthood could lose millions of dollars in federal funds, which stipulate a grantee must be in compliance with all local, state, and federal laws.
Newman said that Planned Parenthood was using patient privacy concerns as cover “to conceal their crimes.”
“These documents have all been so censored that no one could ever guess a patient’s identity, especially after eight years,” said Newman. “Planned Parenthood’s motions are really an underhanded attempt to subvert justice.”