August 6, 2012 — Kansas District Court Judge Stephen Tatum on Thursday dismissed 26 misdemeanor charges against a Planned Parenthood clinic accused of performing illegal abortions, although 32 similar charges remain, the AP/Boston Globe reports. A scheduling conference in the case is set for Aug. 20 (Hanna, AP/Boston Globe, 8/3).
The suburban Kansas City, Kan., clinic is accused of violating a 2003 state law that bans abortions at or after 22 weeks of pregnancy if a doctor determines that the fetus could survive outside of the womb.
Last November, Tatum dismissed 49 of the original 107 charges of allegedly falsifying documents and performing illegal abortions, including 23 felony counts of falsifying reports and 26 misdemeanor charges that the clinic did not maintain its own copies, as required under state law. In April, defense attorneys asked Tatum to dismiss the remaining 58 misdemeanor charges (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/13).
Details of Dismissed Charges
In March, attorneys for the clinic asked for dismissal of the 26 charges, which relate to 13 abortion procedures performed before July 2003. The clinic said the charges were filed after a two-year deadline for pursuing charges that was in effect at the time.
The remaining 32 charges are related to 16 procedures that took place after a new Kansas law took effect extending the deadline for pursuing charges to five years.
Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe said Tatum signed the order at his request to narrow the case against the clinic.
Pedro Irigonegaray, an attorney representing the clinic, said it is a "tragedy that it has taken this long for these charges to be dismissed," adding, "It is inconceivable to me to understand how such a high-profile case could be so incompetently handled" (AP/Boston Globe, 8/3).