© Jack Cashill
July 23, 2008
Published in WND.com
After abortion industry champion Paul Morrison beat incumbent Phill Kline in the 2006 attorney general race, the largely conservative Republican precinct captains of Johnson County shocked the media and their moderate brethren.
They did so by choosing the now widely scorned Kline to fill the remaining two years of Morrison’s term as district attorney.
“Phill Kline and his supporters have shown a stunning disregard for voter sentiment in Johnson County. They have a lot of gall,” thundered TheKansas City Star.
At year’s end, Star columnist Rhonda Chriss Lokeman summed up her paper’s Orwellian take on the issue at hand by awarding its fanciful 2006 “Kill and Be Killed Award” not to abortionist Dr. George Tiller or Morrison, but to Kline.
“Theocrat Kline is obsessed with George Tiller, who performs abortions in Kansas,” Lokeman elaborated. Kline, of course, showed no inclination to theocracy, and to describe Tiller as “someone who performs abortions” was like describing Tiger Woods as “someone who plays golf.”
What made Lokeman’s indictment all the more worrisome was that she was married to the Star’s then editor and now publisher and president, Mark Zieman.
Despite the crushing indictment of the media, Kline refused to roll over. Just before he left office as attorney general, after years of legal struggle, he had managed to secure the redacted records of Tiller’s clinic in Wichita and Planned Parenthood’s in Johnson County.
While late-term abortion law demands that impairment to the mother be serious and irreversible, Tiller’s files were full of dubious diagnoses like “single episode, major depression” and “adjustment disorder” that seemed to be neither.
Before leaving the AG’s office, Kline filed 30 counts against Dr. George Tiller’s Wichita clinic for performing illegal late-term abortions.
Tiller confidently appealed to his political allies. One of them, Sedgwick County (Wichita) District Attorney Nola Foulston, found a friendly judge to dismiss the charges against Tiller on jurisdictional grounds.
The case was appealed to the Kansas Supreme Court, but when Morrison settled in as attorney general, he asked that the appeal be dropped
To be sure, Morrison promised to examine the Tiller medical records that Kline had successfully subpoenaed “inside out, backwards and forwards, and under a neutron microscope.” But no one, his friends included, much believed Morrison.
In April 2007, Democrat governor Kathleen Sebelius evaded Morrison’s neutron microscope and honored the troubled doctor Tiller and his staff at an elegant but extremely discreet lobster dinner at Cedar Crest, the governor’s Mansion.
If Sebelius and Morrison thought they had the Tiller case under control, they obviously did not anticipate the appearance in Kansas of Dr. Paul McHugh.
Before leaving office, Kline had contracted with the impeccably credentialed Harvard-trained psychiatrist. McHugh was to review the Tiller files to see if they honored Kansas law from a psychiatric perspective since very nearly all the files claimed a mental health exemption.
Anticipating Morrison’s end game, pro-life forces brought McHugh to Kansas City in June 2007 to share his insights.
To this point, Morrison had showed no interest in McHugh or his findings. Despite McHugh’s role as chief medical witness on the Tiller case, no one from Morrison’s staff had bothered to ask his opinion during the five months Morrison had been in office.
Morrison took much more interest in the good doctor when McHugh came to town. In fact, he sent several staffers to a planned McHugh press conference in suburban Kansas City. They were there to confront McHugh and deliver a menacing letter demanding that he “cease and desist from all public comment” about his work.
The letter was a bluff, and it was too late in any case. In an earlier taped interview, now on YouTube, the gentle, grandfatherly psychiatrist dispassionately showed just what a sham the whole Tiller enterprise was.
When asked whether he had seen any one patient file that justified a late-term abortion on the basis of major or irreversible psychiatric damage, McHugh unequivocally responded, “I saw no patient file that justified abortion on that basis.”
What McHugh did see were insubstantial, poorly documented evaluations of disheartened young women whose stated reasons for wanting an abortion were as trivial as hoping to see a rock concert or missing a prom.
McHugh was confident too that “100 percent” of his fellow psychiatrists would agree that none of these cases showed any sign of substantial or irreversible damage.
As to the “single episode, major depression” and “adjustment disorder” that Tiller claimed for his patients in their files, McHugh could find no evidence of either.
McHugh insisted that a serious biographical history should have been performed on every young woman, especially “if you are going to take a life on the basis of a psychiatric exam.”
“I had to ask myself,” said McHugh of Tiller’s clinic. “is any person ever found to be not appropriate on psychological grounds for an abortion?”
Tomorrow, part IV: DA Kline Tackles Planned Parenthood
Previous Columns in this series: