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Associated Press
Kansas City, Mo. – A Kansas grand jury that investigated a Planned Parenthood clinic has refused to issue an indictment on allegations that it violated restrictions on the procedure.
The Johnson County, Kan., grand jury’s decision was announced Monday evening, Planned Parenthood officials said.
Abortion opponents, through a petition, had forced the court to convene the panel and investigate the clinic in Overland Park, Kan., to determine whether it violated laws on parental notice and informed consent.
They also wanted to see whether the clinic was illegally trafficking in fetal tissue.
“We are once again vindicated, as we have been any time there is an objective review of these allegations,” said Peter Brownlie, president and chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri. “The jury investigated all of the allegations that were in the petition that resulted in the grand jury being formed, and they found no evidence of any wrongdoing.”
Said Planned Parenthood attorney Pedro Irigonegaray: “It gives me great faith in the justice system and the people of Kansas.”
Those who called for the grand jury believe the case was weakened because the panel did not get all the records it initially sought. The jury convened in December, but its investigation was delayed for more than a month while it waited on records from Planned Parenthood.
“Planned Parenthood cannot claim they are free of any indictment, because the full evidence never reached the grand jury,” said Tim Golba, spokesman for the LIFE Coalition, the anti-abortion collaborative that petitioned for the grand jury.
The jurors issued a subpoena in January seeking the records of 16 clinic patients, but Planned Parenthood feared information in the records would identify the patients.
Johnson County District Attorney Phill Kline, who has started his own investigation into Planned Parenthood, asked District Judge Kevin Moriarty to make the agency and its clinic abide by the subpoena.
Kline also asked for the grand jury’s investigation to be extended, given the delay over records.
In the end, Planned Parenthood was allowed to turn over a limited number of records, those relevant to the grand jury’s questions about parental notice and informed consent.
The laws require that a parent or guardian of a minor seeking an abortion be notified, and that a woman be given information about the procedure or alternatives 24 hours before an abortion is performed.
Kline spokesman Brian Burgess declined to comment Monday. Kline was unavailable for comment, Burgess said.
Cheryl Sullenger, spokeswoman for Operation Rescue, one of the groups in the LIFE Coalition, said she wasn’t surprised by the grand jury’s decision. Jurors didn’t appear to seriously investigate all of the allegations, she said.
“We’ve been considering a second grand jury effort,” Sullenger said. “That’s something that’s on the table right now.”
Brownlie said he expected abortion opponents to claim the grand jury’s work was tainted.
“Any time a decision is different from the one they want, they will claim it’s because of some nefarious doings,” he said. “The only people who continue to insist that there’s criminal wrongdoing are people who have a political agenda.”
Associated Press writer John Hanna in Topeka, Kan., contributed to this report.
Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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