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

other doctors, including those in the field of gynecology and obstetrics who do not perform abortions, are subject only to professional ethics codes and medical malpractice laws. As a physician who provides abortion services in the state of Kansas, Dr. Tiller must comply with four laws that do not apply to other kinds of physicians:

  • A state ban on certain methods of abortion that carries a penalty of imprisonment for non-compliance. Kan. Stat. Ann. Section 65-6721.
  • A federal ban on certain methods of abortion that carries a penalty of 2 years imprisonment. 18 U.S.C.A. Section 1531 (2003).
  • A Kansas law requiring that another financially and legally independent doctor verify the first physician's independent judgment that a post-viability abortion is necessary. Failure to comply could result in one year imprisonment, the loss of a medical license or fines. Kan. Stat. Ann. Section 65-6703(a).
  • A biased counseling law that requires Dr. Tiller to provide patients medically unnecessary or inappropriate materials 24 hours prior to receiving an abortion. A violation could lead to loss of a medical license or fines. Kan. Stat. Ann. Sections 65-6701; 65-6708-15.

B. Selective Investigations and Prosecutions

Navigating the legal minefield is difficult in itself for physicians, but public officials with political motivations can substantially heighten the risk. A zealous prosecutor in Kansas abused the power of his state office to investigate and prosecute Dr. Tiller for lawfully performing abortions. Former Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, who described himself as "unabashedly pro-life," initiated an aggressive multi-year inquisition of Dr. Tiller for the purpose of investigating whether he violated Kansas abortion law. Kline issued subpoenas for the private medical records of 90 of Dr. Tiller
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SOURCE Center for Reproductive Rights
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