March 16, 2005
Transcript of Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline on Hardball With Chris Matthews

MATTHEWS: Welcome back to HARDBALL.

The attorney general for the state of Kansas recently requested the medical records of almost 90,000 Kansas women and girls who had late-term abortions. He says the records are necessary to prosecute criminal cases involving illegal late-term abortions and also statutory rape.

Planned Parenthood of Kansas issued a statement today which read in part: “He,” the attorney general, “doesn‘t have the right to invade the privacy and confidentiality of women who are not subjects of an investigation. It‘s simply wrong to expect any doctor to turn over the medical records of dozens of patients based on the hunch or the hope of the attorney general that he might find evidence of crimes.”

Phill Kline is the attorney general of the state of Kansas. He joins me now.

Why do you need those records to do your job?

PHILL KLINE, KANSAS ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, first of all, the Planned Parenthood statement, interestingly enough, is correct. This isn‘t based on a hunch. It is a court subpoena after a judge found probable cause to believe that a crime, including crimes of child rape, have occurred, and that evidence of that crime is within the clinics‘ files.


MATTHEWS: Excuse me, General. If you have evidence of a crime and a late-term abortion was done against the law of Kansas, why don‘t you prosecute it?

KLINE: Absolutely. Well, we need more evidence.


KLINE: You don‘t file charges without complete evidence.


KLINE: Subpoenas are used—now, Chris, you need to hear my answer.


KLINE: Subpoenas are used in virtually every type of criminal prosecution.

And, in fact, I would say medical records are used in all of our homicide cases, all of our rape cases. Everybody complies with a subpoena, hospitals, doctors, clinics. Only one group says, we‘re above the law and because of the privacy of the child, we have to allow a child to continue to be raped.


KLINE: And that‘s abortion clinics. And that‘s wrong.

MATTHEWS: OK. You have a case you‘re investigating.

KLINE: We have several cases we‘re investigating.

MATTHEWS: And these are particular cases, particular evidence you have of particular crimes?

KLINE: Specific cases.

The judge—the judge has subpoenaed these records, not Phill Kline, not the attorney general. A judge has reviewed evidence for over a year. He says there‘s probable cause to believe that there‘s a crime and that evidence relevant to this crime is in these records. And the judge said, bring the records to me. I will hold them. I‘ll protect the privacy of all involved.


KLINE: You never read the name of a child rape victim in the paper.

Why? Because I wrote the law that shields their name from being published.

Yet, these clinics are saying, despite the fact that we have an 11-year-old who is pregnant, and under Kansas law—I don‘t know what it is here—under Kansas law, that‘s rape. I have the obligation to investigate that. Despite that, they‘re saying, we‘re not providing you this information.

MATTHEWS: Why are the records being sought of women who are over the age of 16, above the age of consent?

KLINE: That‘s a good point.

MATTHEWS: Why do you need the information?

KLINE: Because we‘re also investigating potential criminal late-term abortion.

MATTHEWS: What evidence do you have of that having occurred?

KLINE: I can‘t get into the specific evidence, but it‘s...

MATTHEWS: But you have a particular case you‘re looking at?

KLINE: Absolutely. There‘s...

MATTHEWS: Well, then, why are you seeking the records of every woman in the state who had a late-term abortion?

KLINE: That‘s not true. We‘ve had over 25,000 abortions since I‘ve been attorney general in Kansas.

MATTHEWS: No, no, of late terms.

KLINE: That‘s not true as well. We‘ve had over 1,000 late-term abortions. This is a very narrowed subpoena to two specific clinics after a year of evidence was presented to the court.

You will never get the names of these women from us, because I‘ve not asked for them. The judge is going to shield the names of the women. And the clinics know this. They have never offered the information to us. They said, you do not have the right. They have even argued, it is unconstitutional to require us to report child rape.

That‘s a flat-out wrong interpretation of the Constitution and a dangerous precedent as it relates to our ability to...


MATTHEWS: Do you have evidence of more than one case or more...

KLINE: Absolutely we do.

MATTHEWS: More than one clinic involved?

KLINE: Well, the subpoenas went to two clinics, one clinic in Wichita.

MATTHEWS: Why those two?

KLINE: Well, the evidence led to that particular subpoena. I did not know the evidence would lead to these clinics at the time the investigation started. Neither did the judge.

But the investigation and all the information provided in over a year led the judge to believe, these 90 records, as it relates to these specific files, which will never be released to the public by us—and we won‘t even get most of it—the judge gets it—are relevant.

MATTHEWS: Why do you believe that—why do you believe that Planned Parenthood, which is obviously pro-choice, doesn‘t like the idea of these records being collected?

KLINE: Planned Parenthood always says and responds in this fashion. I can‘t predict that. I haven‘t seen the records. I know they recently sued the attorney general of Indiana because he was investigating child rape and requested records from them, and they‘re trying to stop him in that case as well.

It‘s a very good question for Planned Parenthood. Why do you believe that your clinic should be a sanctuary for child rapists? I don‘t understand it.

MATTHEWS: How many abortions were performed in the state of Kansas in the year 2003, the year in question?

KLINE: Over 12,000.

MATTHEWS: Twelve thousand. And how many were late-term?

KLINE: I can‘t answer that. I think it was about 600. And 78 of those were performed on children 14 years of age and younger.

MATTHEWS: Late-term?

KLINE: No, abortions, 78.


MATTHEWS: What is it—in your experience, what is—what is—what is the nature or what is the prevalence of late-term abortions? How many people get abortions, say, in the last three or four months?

KLINE: It is a low percentage of overall abortions. But Kansas...

MATTHEWS: Is it a problem in the state as a whole?

KLINE: I believe it is a problem, because Kansas has a doctor—and, of course, and I‘ve mentioned this and they‘re criticizing me for this although it is not about—I‘m pro-life.

But Kansas has a doctor who specializes in late-term abortion and advertises that he has the most experience in late-term abortion in the Western Hemisphere.

MATTHEWS: He calls it that? He calls it late-term?

KLINE: Yes, absolutely. And people...

MATTHEWS: But isn‘t—but isn‘t there a general rule under Roe vs. Wade? Each state gets to customize the way they want to deal with it. But once you get into what is called viability...

KLINE: Post-viability.

MATTHEWS: Post-viability, when the argument—it‘s based upon a court decision that—the court decision is such that, if the baby can live outside the womb, then it should be treated differently than if it can‘t. That‘s the...

KLINE: That‘s correct.

MATTHEWS: I‘m not going to argue for or against. That‘s the court ruling.

KLINE: Right.

MATTHEWS: But do doctors generally have a rule that says they can‘t do that unless there is the—the health or life of the mother involved?

KLINE: In Kansas, the law says only if the mother‘s life is in jeopardy can...

MATTHEWS: Only life?

KLINE: And if there is substantial likelihood of severe and irreversible damage to a major bodily function of—the law. That‘s a direct quote of Kansas law.

MATTHEWS: So, it can‘t be a psychological concern?

KLINE: Well, psychological concerns are reversible, or the entire mental health industry would fall.

MATTHEWS: That‘s what I meant.

KLINE: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: So, in other words, a woman can‘t go in and say, it‘s the seventh month. I really can‘t deliver this child because I‘m just too upset about it. That wouldn‘t pass muster with the law.


KLINE: In my mind, that is not substantial likelihood of severe and irreversible damage of a major bodily function. And that‘s how Kansas law reads. And we will enforce the law.

MATTHEWS: And you believe that would be appropriate; that‘s a good law to enforce because what?

KLINE: Well, that‘s the law of the state of Kansas. I‘m the attorney general. That‘s my job.

MATTHEWS: And you want to enforce...

KLINE: Absolutely.

MATTHEWS: And you believe that has been violated?

KLINE: We are investigating possible criminal late-term abortions.

MATTHEWS: Do you have probable cause?

KLINE: Probable cause has been found by a judge who issued subpoenas for those records.

MATTHEWS: That some women have been getting abortions later than—in late-term and without that qualification met?


KLINE: You‘ve got it, absolutely.

And it is important to point this out. The women are not in any legal jeopardy. They‘re also not in any jeopardy of their privacy being violated. We will not see the names of the women. We have not asked for the names of the women. The judge is going to get the records and redact this information. The clinics...

MATTHEWS: So you—you respect the right of the women of privacy?

KLINE: Absolutely. I was chairman of a privacy committee and I wrote the Kansas rape shield law. It is a legitimate concern. We have protected it. The clinics are causing the hysteria and the fear as it relates to this.

MATTHEWS: Do you think abortion should be outlawed in the country?

KLINE: I believe it should be.

MATTHEWS: Do you think the women should be prosecuted for it?

KLINE: Never.

MATTHEWS: OK, thank you very much, Phill Kline, attorney general of Kansas.

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