Investigating Bill O'Reilly

Abortion providers, attacked on Fox News for "executing babies," strike back.

Published November 7, 2006 12:30AM (EST)

Dr. George Tiller, who performs abortions in Kansas, has asked the state's Supreme Court today to investigate Fox News' Bill O'Reilly and Kansas attorney general Phill Kline. He fears that the A.G.'s office leaked confidential patient records to O'Reilly, according to the Associated Press. The attorney general, who is seeking reelection Tuesday, is best known to Broadsheet readers for attempting to define any intimate contact between consenting teens under age 16 as rape, while demanding that healthcare workers and doctors be required to report it as such to authorities.

The current dispute centers around 90 patient records, which Kline obtained from two abortion clinics, including Tiller's in Wichita and a clinic in Overland Park operated by Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri, as part of an investigation that abortion-rights advocates have dubbed a "fishing expedition." Kline successfully argued to a judge that he needed to see the records to look into possible crimes, including "rapes of children, forcible rapes, incest, illegal late-term abortions, failure by doctors to report child abuse, and 'false writings.'" On the campaign trail, his Democratic opponent, Paul Morrison, has attacked the attorney general for seeking the records, calling it an abuse of authority and an invasion of patients' privacy.

Now, Tiller's Wichita clinic and the Overland Park Planned Parenthood are asking the state's Supreme Court to investigate Kline's investigation, a move that Kline denounced as "frivolous." The request came following a segment on "The O'Reilly Factor" last Friday, where the host claimed to have evidence of the abortion providers "executing babies." He charged that Tiller's clinic provides late-term abortions to women who are depressed, while failing to report to authorities the rape of girls, ages 10 to 15, who come in seeking abortions.

Did Kline or his staff leak the confidential patient records to Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor"? On the campaign trail, Kline said he didn't know what information O'Reilly has or where he got it: "Asked if it came from someone within his office, he replied 'absolutely not,'" reports the AP. On his show, O'Reilly didn't say whether the evidence came from those 90 patient records, or whether he or his staff had seen the documents. The executive producer of "The O'Reilly Factor" issued a statement that said simply: "We stand by our story."

Pedro Irigonegaray, an attorney representing the clinics, said: "I think the attorney general's conduct has been shameful," while calling on Fox to fire O'Reilly. "Mr. O'Reilly demonstrated callous disregard for women all over this country and his statements about the records were simply false," he said. In this politically charged atmosphere, we'd really like to hear more about this evidence that O'Reilly claims to have. Considering the specious allegations about abortion and child rape that are flying this election season, we remain skeptical.

By Katharine Mieszkowski

Katharine Mieszkowski is a senior writer for Salon.

MORE FROM Katharine Mieszkowski

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2006 Elections Abortion Bill O'reilly Broadsheet Fox News Love And Sex