Saturday, March 28, 2009

Tiller Found Not Guilty: Pro-Life Forces Vow To Continue Fight

A Kansas jury has found notorious abortionist, George Tiller, not guilty on all counts.

Tiller faced 19 misdemeanor charges that accused him of violating state laws involving late-term abortions. Cheryl Sullinger of Operation Rescue tells OneNewsNow they were disappointed with the verdict.

"We have to remember that these were the weakest of the charges that could have been brought by the state," she notes. "There were 30 charges that had been brought by former Attorney General Phil Kline in 2006 that were dismissed on jurisdictional reasons without having ever been considered on their merit."

Had Tiller faced those charges, Sullinger is confident he would have been convicted. Operation Rescue was at the forefront of the investigation, so Sullinger was asked if they are finished with Tiller.

"We have a number of other projects, and we believe that there's [sic] plenty of things that Tiller has done that violated the law that eventually, we're just going to keep pressing on until we finally get justice and we finally get a conviction," she concludes.

Kansas law allows abortions after a baby can survive outside the womb only if two independent doctors agree that it is necessary to save a women's life or prevent "substantial and irreversible" harm to "a major bodily function," a phrase that has been interpreted to include mental health.

Dr. Ann Kristin Neuhaus provided second opinions on late-term abortions before Tiller performed them.

According to trial testimony, Tiller's patients paid Neuhaus $250 to $300 in cash for providing the consultation and the only way patients could see her was to make an appointment with Tiller's office.

Tiller testified that he used Neuhaus based on advice from his lawyers and from Larry Buening, who was then executive director of the Board of Healing Arts.

Prosecutors tried to show that Tiller ultimately relied on his lawyers' advice - an important distinction because the judge told attorneys before their opening statements that relying on the advice of an attorney cannot be used as a legal defense to criminal charges. They also questioned Tiller about the conversation with Buening, noting that Tiller had testified that Buening said he couldn't quote him.

Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, said abortion opponents were never confident that Tiller would be prosecuted aggressively enough by Attorney General Steve Six.

"Even if Tiller had been found guilty, he would have appealed to the Supreme Court," Culp said, noting that four of the Kansas high court's seven justices were appointed by Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, who supports abortion rights.

Phill Kline, the former attorney general who started the investigation, expressed frustration at the prosecutors who tried the case, noting that their only witness was Neuhaus.

"You do not win cases nor achieve justice by calling one witness and ordering your staff not to initiate any additional effort to gather evidence," Kline said in a written statement.

Disney said his office had thoroughly investigated the case and "presented all the evidence that there was."

Tiller said he is one of three doctors in the U.S. who currently perform late-term abortions. The others are in Boulder, Colo., and Los Angeles, he said.

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