Kansas using Grand Jurys to go after abortion providers

TheDrip

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http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5gxPywDUcF7LN2YYUMgNs0Q1-NBMgD8U7R3300

Kansans Attack Abortion Via Grand Juries

By ROXANA HEGEMAN – 2 hours ago

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Religious conservatives have dusted off a largely forgotten 1887 state law that allows citizens to launch grand jury investigations, and they are using it to help turn Kansas into one of the nation's biggest abortion battlegrounds.

A grand jury that was impaneled Jan. 8 by way of a citizen petition drive is investigating Dr. George Tiller, a Wichita clinic operator abhorred by anti-abortion activists because he is one of the nation's few physicians who perform late-term abortions. This is the second such citizen investigation of Tiller since 2006.

Phillip Jauregui, counsel for the anti-abortion Life Legal Defense Foundation, said Kansans are invoking the 19th-century law because prosecutors are too soft on abortion.

"This is a right the people of Kansas have given themselves," he said.

But others say the law is a dangerous tool.

"This is a witch hunt — plain and simple," said Vicki Saporta, president of the National Abortion Federation, an abortion rights group. "It clearly demonstrates the inherent danger of empowering biased advocacy groups to impanel a grand jury."

Normally, prosecutors decide whether to convene a grand jury to investigate something and bring charges.

Under the Kansas law, enacted during the Gilded Age and the nation's great railroad boom to curb political corruption, the people can force an investigation if they collect signatures from a certain percentage of voters in a county. In small counties, that can be a few hundred signatures; in Wichita's Sedgwick County, about 4,000.

Five other states provide for citizen-petitioned grand juries: Oklahoma, New Mexico, North Dakota, Nebraska and Nevada, according to a Tiller attorney.

One of the most publicized grand juries convened by citizen petition was formed in Oklahoma after the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, which killed 168 people. The investigation was prompted by suspicions that Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols had help in the bombing. But the grand jury found no evidence of a wider conspiracy or a government cover-up.

So far, no other state appears to have used the process to pursue a social and moral agenda as extensively as Kansas, which is attacking not just abortion, but pornography.

Since 2005, citizen petitions have forced several grand juries in Kansas to investigate whether adult bookstores should be charged with obscenity. Twenty stores were indicted, said Phillip Cosby, executive director of the National Coalition for Protection of Children and Families. Most of the cases have not been resolved.

The strategy? "To strengthen the prosecutor's hand" and let authorities know that "they are not alone — that we the people feel there is a very big problem," Cosby said.

The anti-abortion movement rediscovered the law when David Gittrich used it in 2006 to force an investigation into the death of a Texas woman who had an abortion at Tiller's clinic. Though the grand jury failed to return an indictment, people noticed.

Said Gittrich: "I was inspired by God to use the grand jury."

This time, Tiller is under investigation on suspicion of violating a 1998 state law restricting late-term abortions. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Tiller has long been at the very center of the nation's abortion battle. His clinic was bombed in 1985, and eight years later, a woman shot him in both arms.

"We see in Kansas a perfect example of a system which has virtually become active vigilantism," said Lee Thompson, an attorney for Tiller. "A very small minority number of people who have a specific agenda can force a criminal investigation — and I think that is a usurpation of the executive power of government."

Forcing a grand jury investigation requires signatures from 2 percent of the number of people who voted in the last governor's election in the county, plus 100 more names. In Tiller's county, activists gathered nearly 8,000, or twice as many as required.

Similarly, in December, a citizen-impaneled grand jury began investigating a Planned Parenthood clinic in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park.

Then-Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline filed charges against Tiller in 2006, accusing him of performing 15 late-term abortions without the required medical justification and failing to report details to state health authorities. But a judge threw out the case in a jurisdictional dispute involving the district attorney in Wichita.

Then in June, Kline's successor, Paul Morrison, brought new charges against Tiller, accusing him of not getting the signature of a second doctor before performing late-term abortions.

Abortion opponents complained that the charges did not go far enough, and took matters into their own hands by pressing for a grand jury.

"I am still looking for justice," Gittrich said. "I am going to figure some way to get justice."
 

grail

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Sep 24, 2005
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Disgusting, Why can't we fence off Kansas like George Carlin suggested and use the entire state as a prison. At least then it would be worth something.
 

Treat_Yourself

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Nov 17, 2006
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Kansas can go fuck itself. First they try to teach religion in the science classrooms now they're prosecuting people who haven't broken the law. Kansas needs mandatory abortions.
 

Stormrider666

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Mar 19, 2005
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#7
Could someone tell me why there is such a anti-abortion thing in the USA? I don't get it.
Because the Puritan values that were brought over here when the Pilgrams landed on Plymouth Rock are still being forced down people's throats till this day. That's one of reasons.
 

Don the Radio Guy

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Forced down peoples' throats? You mean like the Supreme Court deciding the issue?

I say let the people of each state vote in people who can decide the issue. What is good for Kansas may not be good for New York, but who is New York to impose its values on Kansas?

The reason every other country doesn't have this issue is because it was decided in a democratic way, not forced upon the people by unelected judges.

Make no mistake, the Supreme Court is the reason people are digging up 120 year old laws and asking for constitutional amendments for stupid shit like gay marriage.
 

Stormrider666

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Forced down peoples' throats? You mean like the Supreme Court deciding the issue?

I say let the people of each state vote in people who can decide the issue. What is good for Kansas may not be good for New York, but who is New York to impose its values on Kansas?

The reason every other country doesn't have this issue is because it was decided in a democratic way, not forced upon the people by unelected judges.

Make no mistake, the Supreme Court is the reason people are digging up 120 year old laws and asking for constitutional amendments for stupid shit like gay marriage.
I can see your point of view, but that is way too much of a risk. You're going to let hayseed voters elect hayseed leaders to decide on abortion. Because it won't stop there. Because then you will have bleeding heart liberal docuhes electing in bleeding heart liberal leaders who can decide on issues such as gun control. It might not be the perfect system, but I think the Supreme Court is more effective.
 

TheDrip

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Jan 9, 2006
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I wouldn't really call the Roe v. Wade forcing anything down people's throats. I merely said "You want one, go for it. You don't want one, that's fine too."

I agree though, let the voters in their respective states decide what they want.
 

Treat_Yourself

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I can see your point of view, but that is way too much of a risk. You're going to let hayseed voters elect hayseed leaders to decide on abortion. Because it won't stop there. Because then you will have bleeding heart liberal docuhes electing in bleeding heart liberal leaders who can decide on issues such as gun control. It might not be the perfect system, but I think the Supreme Court is more effective.
It's the way it is. The Constitution was written in such a way as to make a weak federal government and to allow each state quite a bit of leeway in making it's own laws. That means that some states will suck. Some will be theocratic and some will be nanny-state societies.
 

Stormrider666

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#12
It's the way it is. The Constitution was written in such a way as to make a weak federal government and to allow each state quite a bit of leeway in making it's own laws. That means that some states will suck. Some will be theocratic and some will be nanny-state societies.
Yeah I know. But here is an idea and I'm suprised nobody has ever thought about it. Maybe its time for another Constitutional Convention. There has to be some way to come up with a perfect balance between a strong federal government and strong states' rights. Or I think each state should take time and go over their laws and refresh some of them so they can apply to present times and present situations.
 

TheDrip

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Jan 9, 2006
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Yeah I know. But here is an idea and I'm suprised nobody has ever thought about it. Maybe its time for another Constitutional Convention. There has to be some way to come up with a perfect balance between a strong federal government and strong states' rights. Or I think each state should take time and go over their laws and refresh some of them so they can apply to present times and present situations.
I'd say the second option would be MUCH better than a Constitutional Convention. Too many people are looking for the Feds to lead their lives for them. The power the Feds would gain in this day and age from that would be scary.
 

CougarHunter

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Mar 2, 2006
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#14
I'm a life long Kansan.

Look, we just got the right to drink on Sunday a few years ago. We might get gamblin in a few years too.

The blue hairs keep this place perpetually in 1880.

That said, this is old news around here.
 
Feb 20, 2006
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#15
Forced down peoples' throats? You mean like the Supreme Court deciding the issue?

I say let the people of each state vote in people who can decide the issue. What is good for Kansas may not be good for New York, but who is New York to impose its values on Kansas?

The reason every other country doesn't have this issue is because it was decided in a democratic way, not forced upon the people by unelected judges.

Make no mistake, the Supreme Court is the reason people are digging up 120 year old laws and asking for constitutional amendments for stupid shit like gay marriage.


I agree with this.
 

Don the Radio Guy

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I wouldn't really call the Roe v. Wade forcing anything down people's throats. I merely said "You want one, go for it. You don't want one, that's fine too."

I agree though, let the voters in their respective states decide what they want.
The decision itself may not seem like forcing anything but it bascially forced every state to legalize abortions. My point is that judges shouldn't be deciding this stuff at all.
 

weakside

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I can see your point of view, but that is way too much of a risk. You're going to let hayseed voters elect hayseed leaders to decide on abortion. Because it won't stop there. Because then you will have bleeding heart liberal docuhes electing in bleeding heart liberal leaders who can decide on issues such as gun control. It might not be the perfect system, but I think the Supreme Court is more effective.
X2

I know we have a lot of people here who love the idea of states having more power but I think the balance is perfect as it is. The United States is only as strong as it is (the most powerful nation on earth in fact) because we are a union. You will not find one credible U.S. historian who will tell you different. The more separation we have the weaker we become. Therefore, while states are able to make some of their own laws there are others that we have to agree to as a nation is we are to remain powerful.