Archive for February 6th, 2008

Kansas Court Blocks Abortion Grand Jury

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – The Kansas Supreme Court on Tuesday temporarily blocked a grand jury from obtaining patient records from a physician who is one of the nation’s few late-term abortion providers.

The grand jury is investigating whether Dr. George Tiller has broken Kansas laws restricting abortion, as many abortion opponents allege. The grand jury subpoenaed the medical files of about 2,000 women, including some who decided against having abortions.

Abortion opponents forced Sedgwick County to convene the grand jury by submitting petitions, the second such citizen investigation since 2006 of Tiller, who has long been at the center of the nation’s abortion battle. His clinic was bombed in 1985, and eight years later a woman shot him in both arms.

Tiller’s attorneys asked the Supreme Court to quash the grand jury’s subpoenas, and the court agreed to block their enforcement until it considers the issue.

Chief Justice Kay McFarland said Tiller’s challenge raised “significant issues” about patients’ privacy and a grand jury’s power to subpoena records.

The Sedgwick County prosecutor presenting evidence to the grand jury had objected to the attempts to block the subpoenas, noting that the grand jury’s term is limited, but McFarland said the grand jury’s term can be extended.

The court set a Feb. 11 deadline for legal arguments in favor of allowing the subpoenas. Tiller’s attorneys then have until Feb. 25 to respond.

Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, the state’s largest anti-abortion group, called the high court’s decision “extremely disappointing.”

“There is no way to determine if the reasons for these late abortions were done within the narrow legal criteria without looking at the records themselves,” she said. “His lawyers say they are worried about women’s privacy. They are worried about protecting Dr. Tiller.”

Tiller’s attorneys, Dan Monnat and Lee Thompson, did not immediately return calls seeking comment Tuesday.

The grand jury is seeking records of all women who visited Tiller’s clinic between July 2003 and last month and were at least 22 weeks pregnant at the time. The grand jury also subpoenaed information about current and former employees and referring physicians.

The edited patient records would not have the women’s names, but they would have patient identification numbers. Tiller’s attorneys claimed in court last week that in an earlier investigation, former Attorney General Phill Kline was able to track down patients’ names using the identifying numbers on patients’ files.

A spokesman for Kline, who is now Johnson County district attorney, denied that any patients had ever been identified.

Kline eventually filed 30 misdemeanor charges against Tiller before leaving office last year, only to see the case dismissed for jurisdictional reasons.

Original Link.

School Board Member Tells ‘Gay’ Agenda Opponents: Now Go Away

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

A member of the school board in Montgomery County, Md., which has been working for years to overcome obstacles to its program that teaches students homosexuality is innate, has told members of a group objecting to the lessons to go away.

“To the other side, I say get out of town, shut up, quit costing Montgomery County taxpayers money for litigation, and we’re right and parents believe we’re right,” board member Pat O’Neill said in a report in the Portland, Ore., Examiner.

Her demands followed a ruling from Maryland Circuit Court Judge William J. Rowan III that it is permissible for the district to teach students in Montgomery County how to use condoms during anal and oral sex, as well as that homosexuality is inborn, even though just a year ago Maryland’s highest appellate court found there is no scientific basis for such a conclusion.

Lawyers with the the Thomas More Law Center, whose work is funded by donations, represented a group of citizens and several organizations opposed to teaching “facts” to students that do not have a foundation in facts.

The law firm said the curriculum was adopted as a result of a campaign by homosexual advocacy groups, and, at least until a decision would be made in an expected appeal, will teach that homosexuals are “born that way,” even though that theory has been rejected by Maryland’s courts.

That decision came in an opinion in a 2007 civil union case, and held that the proposition that homosexuality is innate is not supported by credible evidence.

“In fact, not one U.S. court presented with the issue has found homosexuality to be an innate characteristic,” the law firm said.

“Judge Rowan’s ruling gives a green light to homosexual groups throughout Maryland to pressure school boards to adopt similar policies,” said Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel for the Thomas More Law Center.

“We will be meeting with our clients next week regarding an appeal,” he said.

The law firm represents Citizens for a Responsible Curriculum, the Family Leader Network, and the Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays in the dispute.

Nearly 300 Montgomery area doctors also had signed a petition objecting to the curriculum that promotes the notion that the use of condoms prevents disease in anal intercourse.

But educators in the Montgomery district dismissed all complaints and concerns over the promotion of anal sex, homosexuality, bisexuality and transvestitism.

The Examiner report said the decision “ends” the dispute, even though no decision had been made on an appeal. Then O’Neill sounded off about the concerned parents.

“I’m thrilled. I saw yes to Judge Rowan,” she said. “And to the other side, I say get out of town…”

School officials told the newspaper the district had spent more than $500,000 in taxpayer funds to pursue legitimacy for its sex agenda.

The foundational concept in the teachings that homosexuality is innate, and a series of discussions regarding “certain types of intercourse in detail” raised objections from those who sought a factual foundation for the teaching, as well as compliance with state law banning the instruction of “erotic techniques.”

Brandon Bolling, the Thomas More Law Center attorney who argued the case, said, “Maryland law says that you have to teach something that is factually accurate. They are not doing that, therefore it is illegal.”

Original Link.

Tornadoes Rip Through South, Killing 31

Wednesday, February 6th, 2008

Pray for the victims of this terrible weather.

ATKINS, Ark. – The death toll from a line deadly tornadoes that tore through the nation’s midsection rose to 31 early Wednesday, as authorities prepared to go door-to door to search for more victims.

Four more people were killed in Allen County near the Tennessee state line, said Buddy Rogers, public information officer for the Kentucky Division of Emergency Management in Frankfort.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

ATKINS, Ark. (AP) — Authorities went door-to-door trying to find additional victims of tornadoes that killed at least 27 people, ripped the roof off a shopping mall and blew apart warehouses as they tore across four states.

The dead included 13 people in Tennessee, 11 in Arkansas, and a mother and father who died in Kentucky with their adult daughter. Those killed in Arkansas included another set of parents, who died with their 11-year-old in Atkins, about 60 miles northwest of Little Rock.

The family died from trauma when the storm their home “took a direct hit” from the storm, Pope County Coroner Leonard Krout said.

“Neighbors and friends who were there said, ‘There used to be a home there,'” Krout said.

The twisters, which also slammed Mississippi, were part of a line of storms that raged across the nation’s midsection at the end of the Super Tuesday primaries in several states. As the extent of the damage quickly became clear, candidates including Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee paused in their victory speeches to remember the victims.

Northeast of Nashville, Tenn., a spectacular fire erupted at a natural gas pumping station northeast of Nashville that authorities said could have been damaged by the storms. An undetermined number of people were reported dead.

Eight students were trapped in a battered dormitory at Union University in Jackson, Tenn., until they were finally freed.

Well after nightfall Tuesday, would-be rescuers went through shattered homes in Atkins, a town of 3,000 near the Arkansas River. Around them, power lines snaked along streets and a deep-orange pickup truck rested on its side. A navy blue Mustang with a demolished front end was marked with spray paint to show it had been searched.

Outside one damaged home, horses whinnied in the darkness, looking up only when a flashlight reached their eyes. A ranch home stood unscathed across the street from a concrete slab that had supported the house where the family of three died.

Original Link.