Could One Man Influence Abortion Law?

Depending on whom you ask, Johnson County, Kan., District Attorney Phill Kline is either an agenda-driven prosecutor operating outside the law or one of the best friends the anti-abortion rights movement has ever had.

And there's no lack of witnesses in his home state willing to testify about their opinion.

"He's a person who is incredibly principled to the point where he sacrificed his own political career to pursue justice and uphold the constitution and the laws of the state of Kansas," said Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, an anti-abortion rights organization that organizes protests outside many Kansas clinics.

Newman's Operation Rescue named Kline "Man of the Year" in 2006.

But just one year earlier, Planned Parenthood – the nation's leading provider of sexual and reproductive health care (including abortions) – placed Kline on its list of "Seven Politicians You Don't Want in Your Bedroom."

"Phill Kline continues to further his political ambition of making abortion illegal by using unethical tactics in his role as District Attorney," said Peter Brownlie, CEO of Planned Parenthood in Kansas and Mid-Missouri, in a statement on the organization's Web site.

The Charges Against Clinic

The prosecutor's latest salvo against the abortion industry began Oct. 17, when he filed a 107-count criminal complaint against Brownlie's Comprehensive Health of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, located in Overland Park, Kan. Twenty-three of the counts are felony charges.

The clinic has denied any wrongdoing and has called the complaints "baseless."

In addition to facing charges of performing illegal late-term abortions, Kline charged the clinic with false writing, failure to maintain records and failure to determine viability.

Under Kansas state law, abortion is legal only when a doctor affirms that the fetus can't live independently outside of the mother's womb, also known as determining viability. If the fetus is viable, two doctors must attest that the abortion is necessary for the well-being of the mother's physical or mental health.

Kline's latest strike follows several previous attempts to curb the abortion industry in Kansas. And while some applaud his dedication – primarily abortion opponents – women's reproductive rights activists are beginning to wonder whether Kline might deliver a big blow to abortion rights not only in Kansas but across the country.

'Unabashedly Pro-Life'

While Kline refused to speak directly to, his spokesman, Brian Burgess, told us it's no secret Kline considers himself as "unabashedly pro-life."

Beginning his political career in the House of Representatives, Kline was a key player in framing Kansas' abortion laws.

Kansas is known not only as a "red state" but is regularly dubbed by anti-abortion activists as the "abortion capital of the world," primarily because Dr. George Tiller – one of the few doctors in the country who still performs late-term abortions – has a clinic in Wichita.

Elected as Kansas attorney general in 2002, Kline later obtained 90 patient records from Tiller's clinic and several others for an investigation into unreported sexual assaults of minors. Just a few months later, Kline filed 30 misdemeanor counts against Tiller for allegedly performing abortions on underage girls.

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