Kansas Supreme Court Weighs Attorney General’s Request for Abortion Records

The Kansas Supreme Court is currently weighing a controversial request by Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline who wants access to a number of medical records from abortion clinics in Kansas.

Kline wants the records of about 90 women who had abortions in Kansas. He is requesting records of young girls who had abortions and records of abortions later than the 22nd week.

On the young girls count, Kline argues that he needs the records to see if a crime was involved. According to Kline,

When a 10-, 11- or 12-year-old child is pregnant, under Kansas law that child has been raped, and as the state’s chief law enforcement official it is my obligation to investigate child rape in order to protect Kansas children. There are two things that child predators want, access to children and secrecy. As attorney general, I’m bound and determined not to give them either.

According to the New York Times, state records show that 78 girls under the age of 15 received abortions in Kansas in 2003.

Kline is also reportedly seeking records of abortions performed after the 22nd week. Kansas has a law — which Kline helped write while he served in the Kansas legislature — which severely restricts but doesn’t not altogether ban abortion after the 22nd week.

Kansas has become a lightning rod in the debate over post-22nd week abortions, however, due to Dr. George Tiller who runs an abortion clinic in Wichita and reportedly performs hundreds of late term abortions annually. Tiller’s abortion clinic is one of two clinics from which Kline has subpoenaed records.

Those opposed to Kline’s request argue that it is little more than a fishing expedition that would violate the privacy of women who seek abortions and likely create a chilling effect among women afraid to have an abortion for fear that their private medical records might be subpoenaed. As Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America told the New York Times,

The vast majority of Americans will rightly be appalled at the notion of a state official issuing a mass subpoena about the most private, personal information there is.

The Kansas Supreme Court heard arguments in February in the case, is expected to rule on the issue later this year.


Kansas prosecutor demands files on late-term abortion patients. Jodi Wilgoren, The New York Times, February 24, 2005.

Kansas demands late abortion data. The BBC, February 25, 2005.

Medical-Record War Heats Up Christianity Today, May 2005.