On Thursday, July 3, a citizen-convened grand jury refused to indict Kansas abortion provider Dr. George Tiller. In a written statement, the jurors said they had not found sufficient evidence to accuse Dr. Tiller of any crime related to abortion laws in Kansas. The state prohibits post-viability abortions unless a woman’s life or health is in danger and requires that a physician make an assessment of viability prior to performing an abortion after the twenty-second week of pregnancy.
In January, 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 for Reproductive Rights represented those patients in an effort to stop the enforcement of the grand jury’s subpoenas for patient medical records. The Kansas Supreme Court issued a decision in May ordering the district court to undertake a number of steps to protect the privacy of the patients’ medical records. Subsequently, the grand jury was given access to a limited number of patient records that had been redacted of identifying information by Dr. Tiller, and of irrelevant information by an independent physician and independent attorney.
The Center for Reproductive Rights issued this statement in response to the grand jury investigation:
“The Center for Reproductive Rights is pleased that the grand jury investigation into Dr. Tiller’s medical practice has finally come to a close. The conclusion of the investigation comes as a great relief to Dr. Tiller’s patients as it ends the threat to patient privacy and future requests for confidential medical records and vindicates Dr. Tiller. Medicine is meant to be practiced in doctors’ offices, not in grand jury rooms. Yet every day across the country, anti-choice zealots actively seek to harass abortion providers and patients alike, often placing their own political agendas above the law. We hope the grand jury’s decision will deter any further politically-motivated investigations of Dr. Tiller, as well as all other abortion providers, and in turn, put a stop to the resulting harm to women seeking their services.”