March 28, 2009 in Nation/World

Kansas jury acquits doctor in abortion case

Roxana Hegeman Associated Press
 

WICHITA, Kan. – One of the nation’s few late-term abortion providers was acquitted Friday of misdemeanor charges stemming from procedures he performed, but moments after the verdict the state’s medical board announced it was investigating allegations against him that are nearly identical to those the jury had rejected.

Prosecutors had alleged that Dr. George Tiller had in 2003 gotten second opinions from a doctor who was essentially an employee of his, not independent as state law requires, but a jury took only about an hour to find him not guilty of all 19 counts.

Tiller, who could have faced a year in jail for even one conviction, stared straight ahead as the verdicts were read. His wife, seated across the courtroom, fought back tears and nodded. The couple declined to speak to reporters afterward.

“You would hope it would be over,” said Tiller attorney Dan Monnat, “but there is a group of people who want to suppress the constitutional rights of women.”

Tiller, 67, has claimed that the prosecution was politically motivated. An attorney general who opposed abortion rights began the investigation into Tiller’s clinic more than four years ago.

Soon after the verdict was announced, the state’s Board of Healing Arts made public a complaint against Tiller that alleges, as prosecutors did, that Tiller and Dr. Ann Kristin Neuhaus, who provided the second opinions, had financial or legal ties that violated the law regarding abortions performed in 2003. The complaint was filed in December but not released until Friday.

The board, which regulates doctors, could revoke, suspend or limit Tiller’s medical license, or fine him.

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