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Charges could mark new abortion war front

WASHINGTON (BP)–More than 60 pro-family leaders have signed a letter to senators and representatives asking them to suspend federal funding for Planned Parenthood while a 107-count criminal complaint against the abortion provider’s Kansas/Missouri chapter is investigated.

The complaint alleges illegal abortions in violation of either state or federal law by Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, which is located in Overland Park, Kan. A judge ruled Oct. 17 that there was “probable cause” for the case to proceed.

The case is receiving national attention because, some observers say, it could lead to a new and successful front in pro-lifers’ nationwide battle against abortion. Even abortion rights supporters say the charges, if proven true, could have a dramatic impact.

The letter was signed by a number of national pro-family leaders, including Barrett Duke of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, Mathew Staver of Liberty Counsel, Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America and Carrie Gordon Earll of Focus on the Family.

“These are substantive charges levied against Planned Parenthood,” the letter reads. “States have passed laws on late-term abortions because they are detrimental to women as well as babies. Women are often not informed that late-term abortions increase the likelihood of severe blood loss, damage to vital organs, later premature births and loss of fertility. We urge you to act to ensure that our tax dollars are not subsidizing abortion clinics that perform possibly illegal late-term abortions.”

The charges were filed by Johnson County District Attorney Phill Kile, the former Kansas attorney general who was defeated in last year’s election — in large part because pro-choice groups heavily funded his opponent. But even though he was beaten, he remains a thorn in the side of abortion rights groups, just as he was as attorney general.

Kile’s complaint alleges, among other things, that the local Planned Parenthood:

— performed illegal late-term abortions.

— failed to determine viability of fetuses.

— falsified documents to cover up illegal activity.

Under Kansas’ abortion law, a late-term abortion on a viable unborn baby can be performed only if two doctors agree that the abortion is necessary for the woman’s physical or mental health, ABCNews.com reported.

“Planned Parenthood operates around 860 facilities around the country, and there are approximately 40 states with laws banning late term abortions,” the letter from pro-family groups reads. “This illegal conduct may be happening all over the country.”

Conservative columnist Robert D. Novak said the 107-count complaint signals “a new front in the endless abortion wars.”

“Antiabortion activists see Kline’s prosecution as the springboard for a national campaign,” Novak wrote in a column published in The Washington Post Oct. 25.

The charges have abortions rights leaders concerned, even though they maintain the clinic is innocent. Kansas is home to famous abortion doctor George Tiller, who performs late-term abortions, often on viable unborn babies.

“[Kline’s complaints] could affect women all over the country,” National Organization for Women President Kim Gandy told ABCNews.com. “Women far beyond the borders of Kansas go to places like Dr. Tiller’s clinic, because he is one of the very few who has the courage to do this kind of work. He’s [part of] a handful of doctors who still do it.”

Thus far, efforts to curb federal funding for Planned Parenthood have failed. On Oct. 18 the Senate defeated by a vote of 52-41 an amendment that would have prohibited Title X funding for organizations that perform abortions. That would have included Planned Parenthood, which is the largest recipient of Title X funds. Title X is the federal government’s family planning program.

Additionally, in July, the House defeated an amendment by Rep. Mike Pence, R.-Ind., that would have banned Title X funding for Planned Parenthood specifically. The vote was 231-189.
Compiled by Michael Foust, assistant editor of Baptist Press, with reporting by Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief of BP.

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