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"Losing my faith in humanity ... one neocon at a time."

Friday, February 25, 2005

Fishing for women with loose moral values

posted by Jazz at 2/25/2005 06:12:00 AM

NOTE: YOU ARE VIEWING AN ARCHIVED POST AT RUNNING SCARED'S OLD BLOG. PLEASE VISIT THE NEW BLOG HERE.

That seems to be the new hobby of Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline. Apparently he began his own private fishing expedition last October in the form of a secret investigation where he demanded that abortion clinics in the state surrender the complete medical records of women who had abortions. Up to 90 women may be affected. The reason he gave for this jaw dropping demand?

Two clinics are fighting the request in Kansas Supreme Court, saying the state has no right to such personal information.

But Attorney General Phill Kline, an abortion opponent, insisted Thursday: "I have the duty to investigate and prosecute child rape and other crimes in order to protect Kansas children."

Kline is seeking the records of girls who had abortions and women who received late-term abortions. Sex involving someone under 16 is illegal in Kansas, and it is illegal in the state for doctors to perform an abortion after 22 weeks unless there is reason to believe it is needed to protect the mother's health.

I'm not a lawyer, and I don't even play one on TV, but this strikes me as being fundamentally wrong... not just from a moral outrage perspective, but from a legal one as well. Clearly this wingnut is using this as an excuse to go after both women who get abortions and the doctors performing them, but his cover story seems to fail to meet a basic test.

In order to begin an investigation... any investigation - I was under the impression that you first had to have a specific crime you were working on, don't you? He is supposedly investigating two types of "crime" here... sex with a girl under the age of sixteen and abortions performed after 22 weeks gestation where the pregnancy isn't putting the life of the mother in danger.

Taking the second one first, it would seem that the default assumption when lacking a specific complaint by a woman or her doctor, would be that any abortion performed after 22 weeks *was* because the mother's health was endangered. Barring any specific case of complaint, where do you get the right to scoop up the medical records of all the women who did not complain and had legitimate reasons to get an abortion?

The first one looks a bit trickier on the surface, but I'm guessing it's not. Any time an adult male is having sex with a girl under sixteen, that's just wrong in my personal opinion. And apparently it's against the law in Kansas. Good for them. However, there should still be some sort of complaint filed about the sexual activity itself, not simply looking for such activity because it resulted in pregnancy. How many of those 90 cases were underage girls? Even if we say that it's half of them, do you really think that only 45 teenage girls in the state of Kansas had sex last year? This is effective law enforcement?

Also, what about cases where both of the parties are younger teenagers? (sixteen or under.) I'm not sure how that's handled on a state by state basis, but I'm fairly certain that it is very different than statutory rape where the male is an adult. Barring specific facts indicating that one particular girl was impregnated by an adult male, where is the justification for seizing the records of all girls sixteen and under who got pregnant? Far too wide of a reach.

The State Supreme Court needs to crack down on this wingnut pronto. This kind of wide reaching government investigation, risking the rights and privacy of numerous women for nothing more than political showmanship is to be despised. The AG is the one who needs to be under investigation.

UPDATE: The New York Times has picked up on this story. So have some other bloggers.

No More Mister Nice Blog asks, "Yeah, really. What IS the matter with Kansas?"

Ellen Nagler sees a resemblence between the AG and Torquemada. (Nice graphics here.)

Talk Left sees this as yet another reason to preserve the right to fillibuster judicial nominees.