Commentary Abortion

Reaction: Panel Recommends Suspension of Former Kansas AG Phill Kline for Stalking Dr. Tiller

Andy Kopsa

It is difficult to tell if we are witnessing the death throes or re-upping of the radical right-wing. The frenetic pace with which the states are instituting draconian abortion laws, defunding Planned Parenthood and bringing ultrasounds to Capitol Hill could be either. It is going to be up to the us in the pro-choice movement to decide.

Cross-posted with permission from the author’s personal site.

When I saw this tweetfrom RHRealityCheck this morning I frankly couldn’t believe it:

During the trial of Dr. Tiller’s murderer Scott Roeder, I became familiar with Phill Kline. This is from a post I wrote back in early 2010. The judge in the Tiller murder trial had ordered the jury to steer clear of a 2005 GQ article about the budding Kansas AG:

Former Kansas Attorney General, Kline relentlessly and erroneously filed 30 claims against Dr. Tiller in 2006. Sends a message doesn’t it? Kline had political aspirations, seemingly on the fast track to the Kansas Governor’s mansion. GQ even stood up and took note. This on the 2005 article, via NARAL:

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[Kline is] the most aggressive abortion litigator in the land.” The nine-page article carries the headline, “This man will do anything to stop abortion.” The author of the article isGQ correspondent Andrew Corsello, who focused much of his attention on a lengthy dinner conversation he had with Kline and Kline’s wife about abortion. The second page of the piece bears an image of a fetus with a subhead that says, “Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline says he wants to get people talking honestly about abortion, to make people think about abortion. So why has he become the most aggressive abortion litigator in the land, subpoenaing the medical records of abortion clinics and prying into our private sexual histories? Meet the future of the pro-life movement.

If you have the stomach for it here is more of my writing about Kline/Roeder from that time.

This is from an AP story this morning reporting on the recommendation of Kline’s suspension:

“The Respondent’s (Kline’s) dishonest and selfish motives aggravate the misconduct in this case,” the panel wrote in its 184-page report. “The Respondent failed to take any responsibility for his misconduct.”

The recommended sanction from a three-member panel of the state Board for Discipline of Attorneys reflects the board’s belief that Kline repeatedly violated the state’s rules for attorneys. It stopped just short of recommending that he lose his law license, something state Disciplinary Administrator Stanton Hazlett had proposed in pursuing the case. 

The words dishonest and selfish in the panel report are representative of the movement Phill Kline represents. It’s noting that Kline failed to take responsibility for his misconduct is standard operating procedure for the radically anti-choice. The “pro-life” movement is balanced on the scales of those two powerful words and buoyed by its refusal to accept the negative outcomes they produce. The lies that flow from the anti-choice movement smash repeatedly down on women and capture our country in its wake; the fight to push back and repudiate their claims is non-stop and exhausting.

The lies run the gamut: fake science, fetal pain, when “life” begins, abortions cause breast cancer, there is such a thing as post-abortion syndrome that we will treat you for at our fake clinics. Their tactics are reprehensible: photos of mutilated fetuses splashed on the sides of panel trucks, shaming and terrorizing women as they enter clinics, bombs, murder. Their motives completely selfish: I don’t want you to have an abortion because I believe God put a baby in your tummy when sperm met egg. I have tried to have reasonable conversations with anti-choicers. But I can’t have a reasonable conversation with unreasonable people who are ruled by their religion with a moral certitude that can be deadly.

Troy Newman of Operation Rescue recently said this (via the intrepid Robin Marty at RHRealityCheck):

“Abortionists don’t deserve anonymity,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. “It keeps them from being held accountable for their actions. In some states, patients aren’t even told the full names of their abortionists and when things go wrong, women don’t even know who to file a complaint against.”

Identifying abortionists has helped Operation Rescue and other pro-life groups to warn women of abortionists with histories of abortion abuses.

“People who are proud of their work are willing to put their names on it. People who are ashamed or are trying to get away with something, like bank robbers and abortionists, wear masks,” said Newman. “It’s time to unmask Nicola Moore and allow Christians to pray for her — as a post-abortive woman and as an abortionist — to seek repentance, salvation, and healing through the Great Physician, Jesus Christ.”

Troy Newman must not have been proud of the work his organization’s tactics played in cultivating Scott Roeder:

Scott Roeder has never been a member, contributor, or volunteer with Operation Rescue. Mr. Roeder may have posted to our open blog web site, as have thousands of members of the public, including those with pro-abortion views, but he is not affiliated with this organization.

We deplore the criminal actions with which Mr. Roeder is accused.

The pro-life ethic is to value all human life from the moment of conception until natural death. Operation Rescue has diligently and successfully worked for years through peaceful, legal means, and through the proper channels to see to it that abortionists around the nation are brought to justice. Without due process, there can be no justice.

In spite of these horrific events, we remain dedicated to working through all peaceful and legal means available to bring an end to the killing of innocent children through abortion.

The fact that Newman moved Operation Rescue’s HQ purposefully into Dr. Tiller’s backyard probably had nothing to do with any of it.

When it comes to abortion rights, Kansas is a train-wreck. I thought for sure once again, a woman’s right to an abortion, to the privacy of her medical records and womb, and the shrugging off of a man’s death because he was an abortion provider would rule the day and Phill Kline would go on to whatever fame is reserved for such right-wing zealots. The panel’s recommendation is nothing short of a coup.

The voracity with which House Democrats railed against HR 358 (the bill’s name itself a lie: The Protect Life Act) was amazing and a sign that we are fed up with the Republican’s legislative misogyny. Not only is the bill redundant and a waste of time/fundraising for the right ploy it is also particularly repugnant.

The bill allows for a healthcare provider to refuse medical treatment of a woman who shows up on their doorstep bleeding from her vagina in some stage of miscarriage or aborting a pregnancy. And this is to protect the conscience of the healthcare worker who’s first duty is to do no harm. Representatives Alcee Hastings, Jan Schakowsky, Jackie Spear, Gwen Moore, Nancy Pelosi, Barbara Lee, Steve Isreal, Ted Deutch and Rush Holt starred in a feature reel on The Rachel Maddow Show last night in which they let the Republicans have it. I didn’t hear one of these legislators use the ridiculous “our friends on the other side of the aisle” instead referring to the Republicans that brought this bill as colleagues. And that is because they are not our friends.

It is difficult to tell if we are witnessing the death throes or re-upping of the radical right-wing. The frenetic pace with which the states are instituting draconian abortion laws, defunding Planned Parenthood and bringing ultrasounds to Capitol Hill could be either – or just 2012 showmanship. It is going to be up to the us in the pro-choice movement to decide.

How we capitalize successes (like the Kline ruling), how we can more aggressively respond to the lies and tactics of the anti-choice movement and how we push the media to talk about the war on women will continue to make all the difference. It might just be me, high on the Kline ruling, or inspired by the Occupy Wall Street movement but it feels a bit like a tipping point if we can grab the moment and take our long fought fight to the next level, whatever form it takes. Sleeping bags on the Capitol steps anyone?

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