In Defense of Phill Kline

In 2005, Planned Parenthood listed this man as one of "Seven Politicians You Don't Want In Your Bedroom." He has been called an "anti-abortion zealot," and a "crusader." He has been accused of putting his own religious convictions ahead of the rule of law. He has been damned in hundreds of op-eds. He even has a website dedicated solely to denouncing him.

His name is Phill Kline, and the Population Research Institute would like to officially rise to his defense.

In 2003, Phill Kline, then Attorney General of Kansas, began an investigation of the Johnson County Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri. Using subpoenaed medical records, Kline uncovered evidence that seemed to prove that Planned Parenthood had willfully neglected to report instances of child rape, had forged their viability reports, and had performed illegal late-term abortions. (The records had the names and other personal information carefully redacted to protect the women's privacy.)

Planned Parenthood decided to ignore the charges. As court hearings began, PP's army of lawyers relied on procedural ploys to delay and squelch the case. In the public arena, no attempt was made to counter the charges or even to acknowledge their existence. Planned Parenthood, it turned out, wasn't interested in defending itself against the charges. Instead, it had decided to destroy Attorney General Kline's reputation.

The abortion giant put out a press release which suggested that his charges, which they repeatedly referred to as "baseless," were pure political posturing. They accused him of "further[ing] his political ambition of making abortion illegal by using unethical tactics." "No health care provider should be threatened with felony convictions," said PPKM CEO Peter Brownlie, "simply because elected officials oppose legal abortion."

Following the lead of Planned Parenthood's formidable PR machine, dozens of newspapers, blogs, and public figures all went for the jugular. "Kline just personifies the abortion debate," ABC News contended in October of 2007. "This is a guy who has never tried any cases and has a very marginal record as an attorney, and so it is very much seen, I think, even by the pro-life people, that Kline's personal beliefs are his No. 1 priority." This preposterous claim comes straight out of Planned Parenthood's talking points. Apparently ABC's zeal for abortion is more important than its commitment to truth.

Nancy Keenan, president of NARAL, predictably called Kline "one of the most extreme anti-choice politicians." But then she went on to make the totally false claim that he was "invading people's most private medical information." The records, as I mentioned above, had been carefully purged of any identifying information.

The New York Times also parroted Planned Parenthood's official line, calling him "an anti-abortion zealot who gained national notoriety by misusing his office to further his ideology," while gliding over the charges themselves, which they wrongly characterized as a "gross assault on privacy and legal rights."

Planned Parenthood was engaging in what might be called the PR of personal destruction, and it appears to be winning, at least up to now, especially in the media. Their all-out smear campaign against Phill Kline convinced the people of Kansas to vote him out of office last year, although he is continuing to prosecute the case as the newly appointed district attorney of Johnson County. And it has meant that the media have rarely reported the details of Kline's charges. They apparently find the Planned Parenthood cover story, that Kline is an out-of-control zealot, much more interesting.

So the liberal media machine continues to grind Kline down, while completely ignoring his charges. In the film, Thank You for Smoking, spin doctor Nick Naylor tells a defeated adversary, "I proved that you're wrong, and if you're wrong, I'm right." That is Planned Parenthood's strategy in a nutshell.

What should pro-lifers do? They should steadfastly support Phill Kline as he continues his prosecution of Planned Parenthood's crimes. His evidence seems to be solid and his witnesses reliable. What is more, despite the media assault, Kline still enjoys widespread support in Kansas.

A district attorney's job is to uphold the law. If Planned Parenthood violated the law, as Kline alleges, then it should be prosecuted for its crimes, however wealthy, powerful, and media savvy it is. Moreover, the courts need to move this case forward. It would be a shame if Kline did not get his day in court, simply because Planned Parenthood managed to delay the trial until Kline leaves office.

As Brian Burch of Human Events has noted, although the abortion provider claims to respect the rule of law, it more often flouts it. "Planned Parenthood, through their actions," Burch wrote, "has no respect whatsoever for the rule of law or the constitutional rights of pro-lifers, and . . . will boldly make any argument, no matter how absurd or lawless, to win at any cost when their business of aborting unborn children and compliance with the law is under justifiable scrutiny."

If anyone ever doubted the essential lawlessness of the abortion movement, the ongoing saga of Phill Kline's efforts to bring Planned Parenthood to justice should more than dispel those doubts.

PRI encourages pro-lifers everywhere to combat the smear campaign being brought to bear against Mr. Kline by contacting the newspapers, radio stations, and TV stations who have run these falsehoods, and encouraging them to report on the facts, not the propaganda.

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