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LIFE DIGEST: Kansas A.G. inquiry into abortion clinics to continue; court outburst ‘unproductive,’ pro-life lawyer says

WASHINGTON (BP)–Kansas voters removed Attorney General Phill Kline from office in the Nov. 7 election, but that apparently will not halt his investigation into two abortion clinics.

Democrat challenger Paul Morrison, Johnson County district attorney, gained 58 percent of the vote to defeat Kline in a race marked by controversy and by special interest from both sides in the abortion debate.

Kline had been seeking records from two Kansas abortion centers for two years -– the Wichita clinic of George Tiller, the country’s best known late-term abortion doctor, and a Planned Parenthood clinic in Overland Park. Kline finally won a court battle and received edited records on 90 patients in late October.

The attorney general said at the time the records were being examined for evidence of possible charges for rape, child rape, incest, illegal late-term abortions and doctors’ refusal to report child sex abuse, the Associated Press reported.

After the election, Morrison said he would continue the investigation, a position he rejected during the campaign, but said Kline should not file charges before he leaves office in January. Morrison said he wants the medical records to be given to a third party named by the state Supreme Court, according to the Topeka Capital-Journal.

“I do hope that he will not file the cases,” Morrison said at a Nov. 8 news conference, according to the newspaper. “That is an open case now, and I have an obligation to look at all the cases up there, which we will do. We will give that the attention it deserves with an eye, obviously, on how important it is to protect peoples’ privacy.”

A spokeswoman for Kline rejected Morrison’s suggestion.

“It would not serve Kansans well to stop doing business for two months,” said Sherrienne Jones, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported. “And Mr. Morrison should realize that as Johnson County district attorney. He’s not going to stop his prosecutors from forwarding their cases.

“The investigation itself is moving forward,” Jones said. “We can’t tell you when or if charges will be filed.”

Jones estimated Morrison and abortion rights organizations combined to spend $4 million on his campaign, according to the newspaper. A spokesperson for NARAL Pro-choice America, a leading abortion rights group, acknowledged the organization sent volunteers to Kansas to help Morrison with his campaign, LifeNews.com reported.

The political action committee of Tiller’s clinic, Women’s Health Care Services, reported campaign contributions of more than $304,000 from July 21 to Oct. 26, according to The Wichita Eagle.

If the abortion clinic investigation cost Kline the election, that is OK with him, he told reporters.

“There are some things that you do that are the right thing to do,” Kline said, according to the Topeka newspaper. “They’re not driven by polls. They’re not driven by what media pronouncements might be. You do it because it’s right. And I feel very, very calm in my heart we did the right thing. I would do it again.”

COURT OUTBURST –- An anti-abortion spectator gained everyone’s attention during Nov. 8 oral arguments at the Supreme Court, but a pro-life lawyer later said it may not have been helpful to his cause.

The high court heard two hours of arguments about the Partial-birth Abortion Ban Act, a 2003 federal law that prohibits a gruesome procedure used normally in the fifth or sixth month of pregnancy. A male member of the audience loudly interrupted the proceedings about three-fourths of the way into the opening hour.

After dropping to his knees in an aisle, the man expressed his opposition to abortion with words that were difficult to understand in the reporters’ seating area. A pro-life lawyer in the audience told Baptist Press, “My memory is he said, ‘Abortion is the murder of an innocent child. Repent or you shall perish, says Jesus.’”

Court officers quickly took the man from the courtroom, but his loud pleas continued to reverberate from the hallway. The man was identified later as Rives Miller Grogan, 40, of Los Angeles. Among the charges filed against him were violating a federal law against disrupting court sessions.

Another pro-life lawyer, Jordan Lorence, was two seats behind Grogan and commented on his outburst afterward.

“I understand the man’s frustration, but it was totally unproductive and maybe even counterproductive,” the senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund told BP. “And I’m sure that guy felt good for the moment, and he’s probably going to get a headline, but it’s really not worth it. It’s a lot of flash and no effect. And the quiet work of going to law school, getting the degrees, understanding how the Supreme Court works, that’s what gets the job done.”

Three federal appeals courts have struck down the ban on partial-birth abortion. During the arguments, the Bush administration defended Congress’ authority to outlaw a procedure Solicitor General Paul Clement said “blurred the line between abortion and infanticide.” He urged the high court to defer to the legislative body.

As normally used, partial-birth abortion, also known as D&X for dilation and extraction, involves the delivery of an intact baby feet first until only the head is left in the birth canal. The doctor pierces the base of the infant’s skull with surgical scissors before inserting a catheter into the opening and suctioning out the brain, killing the baby. The technique provides for easier removal of the baby’s head.

STEM CELLS FOR HEARTS -– British doctors soon will begin experimental treatments with non-embryonic stem cells on heart attack patients.

Doctors at London Chest Hospital and London Heart Hospital plan to begin after Christmas treating people brought in after heart attacks with injections of stem cells from their own bone marrow, The Daily Mail reported Nov. 7. If the trials prove successful, National Health Service hospitals throughout Great Britain are expected to use the non-controversial treatment, according to the newspaper.

The experimental treatment will be the first in the world in which patients would be injected with stem cells only hours after a heart attack. It is hoped the method will prevent further heart attacks, as well as heart failure, and repair damaged heart muscles.

“If we can demonstrate improvement in the quality of life of patients, then this will be a significant step forward in the treatment of heart disease,” research co-leader Anthony Mathur told The Daily Telegraph. “Because the cells are taken from the patient themselves, there are minimal ethical issues surrounding this procedure. There is also less likelihood of rejection complications.”

Heart attack victims who are taken to either of the two London hospitals participating in the trials will be given a common treatment known as angioplasty to open a blocked artery that caused the problem. The patients, who normally will be conscious prior to cardiac arrest, will be asked for written consent to participate in the research, according to the newspaper.

Stem cells are the body’s master cells that can develop into tissues and other cells, providing hope for the treatment of numerous afflictions.

Extracting stem cells from non-embryonic sources -– such as bone marrow, umbilical cord blood, placentas and fat -– does not harm the donor and has produced treatments for at least 72 ailments in human beings, according to Do No Harm, a coalition promoting ethics in research. These include spinal cord injuries, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis and sickle cell anemia.

The extraction of stem cells from an embryo destroys the tiny human being and has yet to produce a treatment for any human ailment or even to reach the stage of human trials. Animal experimentation using embryonic stem cells has been plagued by the development of tumors.

CLONES DOWN UNDER –- The Australian Senate narrowly approved Nov. 7 a bill to legalize the cloning of human embryos for research.

The Senate voted 34-32 for the legislation, which would remove the country’s prohibition on research cloning, AP reported. The House of Representatives is expected to approve the measure as well.

The bill would not permit the implantation of a cloned embryo into a woman’s womb but would require all clones to be destroyed within their first 14 days.