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Kansas AG Pressing Abortion Case

December 27, 2006

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas’ outgoing attorney general announced Wednesday that he would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate a prominent abortion doctor, saying the move would take the polarizing case out of the political arena.

Attorney General Phill Kline, a vocal abortion opponent who lost the November election, made the announcement about two hours before a court hearing on whether his charges against Dr. George Tiller should be reinstated.

Kline charged Tiller with 30 misdemeanor counts last week, but Sedgwick County District Judge Paul W. Clark dismissed the charges Friday over a jurisdictional issue.

Kline asked the judge to reconsider.

Even if Clark doesn’t reinstate the criminal charges, Kline said, he will ask the special prosecutor to move ahead with the investigation. Asked how the prosecutor would proceed, Kline replied: ``There are numerous options.″

The Republican attorney general accused Tiller of performing 15 illegal late-term abortions in 2003 on patients ages 10 to 22 and not properly reporting details to state officials.

Critics have argued that Kline let a personal agenda drive his decisions in the case. He had been investigating abortion providers and earlier this year won a two-year legal battle for access to the records of 90 clinic patients.

Tiller’s clinic, one of the few in the country to perform late-term abortions, has been a high-profile target of abortion opponents. It was bombed in 1985, and Tiller was shot in both arms by a protester in 1993.

``This appointment of an independent special prosecutor will remove this investigation from a highly charged political process,″ Kline said Wednesday.

The lawyer he chose as a special prosecutor, Wichita Democrat Don McKinney, had castigated a newspaper during the election for not aggressively investigating unproven allegations of sexual harassment against Kline’s Democratic opponent.

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