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Center for Reproductive Rights Deeply Saddened by Murder of Dr. George Tiller
Date:5/31/2009

's patients and eventually charged him with 30 misdemeanor crimes based on their contents. Kline's successor as Attorney General, Paul Morrison, convinced the Kansas Supreme Court to drop the misdemeanor charges against Dr. Tiller because according to his office, the basis of the charges was "absolutely inaccurate and false" and "based on a political agenda."

Even though the court dismissed Kline's baseless charges, Dr. Tiller must still contend with a different state investigation involving unsubstantiated allegations that he failed to maintain an independent financial relationship with a referring physician, as required by Kansas law. He faces 19 misdemeanor charges carrying penalties of a prison sentence and loss of his medical license. Even if a jury clears Dr. Tiller of all wrongdoing, the process has burdened him with the considerable time and expense required to defend himself against such charges, in addition to the fear of sanctions or damage to his professional reputation.

The state of Kansas also grants private citizens the power to trigger the minefield of legal liability for abortion providers. For instance, two anti-abortion extremist groups in Kansas used an 1887 state law to convene a "citizen grand jury" to investigate whether Dr. Tiller violated the state's abortion laws, even though the state was conducting its own investigation of Dr. Tiller at the time. Fortunately, the Kansas Supreme Court recently held that the citizen grand jury must take certain precautions to protect patient privacy when issuing subpoenas of medical records. Despite these limits, the state has allowed the citizen grand jury to be turned into a mechanism for the harassment of physicians and an anti-abortion "political weapon."

Dr. Tiller deserves the Human Rights Defenders Tulip because of his brave perseverance in providing women their human right to reproductive health services in the face of great risks to his safety, rep
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SOURCE Center for Reproductive Rights
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