Robert Novak

WASHINGTON -- National anti-abortion leaders Wednesday put finishing touches on a letter to be sent to all members of Congress urging suspension of more than $300 million in federal funding of Planned Parenthood until a massive criminal case brought in Kansas against the abortion rights organization is settled. That launches an attack against the nation's largest purveyor of "reproductive health care" -- including abortions.

On Oct. 16, Kansas District Judge James F. Vano in suburban Kansas City spent eight hours reviewing a 107-count grand jury indictment against Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri Inc. and decided there was "probable cause" to proceed. Allegations of unlawful late-term abortions and other abortion-connected crimes were brought by Johnson County District Atty. Phill Kline, a pro-life hero nationally who is viewed as a fanatic by abortion rights advocates. The prosecution alleges violation of state and federal laws and falsification of documents to justify it.

This opens a new front in the endless abortion wars. No change in the status quo had seemed possible for the pro-lifers. The 5 to 4 Supreme Court advantage for abortion is frozen, and a Democratic-controlled Congress will not pass new anti-abortion legislation, much less a constitutional amendment. The offensive against abortion now takes dead aim at Planned Parenthood and attempts to expand a Kansas criminal prosecution into a nationwide assault.

"Bloody Kansas" was the battleground between rebel and loyal forces nearly 150 years ago, and it is now an epicenter of abortion conflict. While polls show Kansas voters 60 percent pro-life, anti-abortion activists call the state "the abortion capital of the world" -- mainly because of Dr. George Tiller. At his Wichita clinic, Tiller is one of the few American doctors still performing late-term abortions.

The struggle has ripped asunder Kansas's dominant Republican Party, with Kline at the heart of it. He won passage of anti-abortion legislation during eight years in the state House of Representatives, before his narrow 2002 election as state attorney general. Kline's vigorous prosecution of alleged abortion offenses made him the principal national target of the abortion industry.

Robert Novak

Robert Novak (1931-2009) was a syndicated columnist and editor of the Evans-Novak Political Report.

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