Could One Man Influence Abortion Law?

A Kansas DA has spent much of his career challenging abortion clinics.

ByABC News
February 12, 2009, 4:07 PM

Oct. 22, 2007 — -- 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 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.