In the Matter of the Grand Jury Investigation & Jane Doe, Anne Roe, Sarah Coe, and Paula Poe v. Hon. Michael Corrigan and Hon. Paul Buchanan


Primary Content

Dr. George Tiller was a physician who operated a medical practice, Women’s Health Care Services, in Wichita, Kansas, where he provided abortion services to women from across the country. , He specialized in later term abortion services for women who face substantial health risks or fetal anomalies. , As one of few physicians in the country who provided abortions later in pregnancy, his clinic was a frequent target for harassment and violence by anti-abortion protesters and extremists. , Most recently, anti-abortion extremist groups, Kansans for Life and Operation Rescue, used an 1887 state law to convene a "citizen grand jury" to investigate whether Dr. Tiller violated the state’s abortion laws.

Filing date: , 02/01/2008

State: Kansas

Plaintiff(s): , Jane Doe, Ann Roe, Sarah Coe, Paula Poe, patients of Dr. Tiller, whose medical records are subject to the grand jury pursuant to the challenged subpoenas

Center Attorney(s): Bonnie Scott Jones, Suzanne Novak, Michelle Movahed

Co-Counsel/Cooperating Attorneys: , Jim Lawing in Wichita, KS (local counsel)

Summary: In January 2008, the grand jury subpoenaed the medical records of women who sought abortion services from , Dr. Tiller during the past five years, and who were twenty-two weeks pregnant or more. The Center brought an action in the Kansas Supreme Court on behalf of the patients whose records were sought, in an effort to block enforcement of the subpoenas. , The patients not only objected to the invasion of their privacy, but many feared for their own safety and that of their families if their records were turned over to the grand jury. , In May, 2008, the Kansas Supreme Court ruled in our favor, recognizing the fundamental privacy protections governing the patients records, and ordering the district court to undertake a number of steps to protect the privacy of the those records.

Following the Supreme Court’s decision, and the narrowing of the subpoenas in district court, the grand jury was given access to a limited number of patient records from which Dr. Tiller previously had blocked out all potentially identifying information, and from which an independent physician and independent attorney had blocked out all information irrelevant to the grand jury inquiry. ,

In July 2008, the grand jury closed its investigation without returning any indictment against Dr. Tiller. , In a written statement, the jurors said they had not found sufficient evidence to accuse Dr. Tiller of any crime.