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Abortion charges against Kansas Planned Parenthood clinic dropped

By Kevin Murphy

KANSAS CITY, Kansas (Reuters) - Prosecutors on Friday dropped 32 remaining criminal charges accusing a Planned Parenthood clinic in Kansas of performing late-term abortions, ending the first-ever criminal case against a U.S. Planned Parenthood clinic over abortion.

The case, brought in 2007 by then-Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, accused Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri of 107 charges, some of them felonies.

Kline, a Republican, said the clinic provided illegal abortions by not verifying the gestational age and viability of some fetuses. Kansas restricts late-term abortions once a fetus is deemed able to survive outside the womb.

Last year, 49 counts against Planned Parenthood were dismissed because state health department records they were based on had been destroyed, prosecutors said. Another 26 misdemeanor counts were dismissed recently for falling outside the statute of limitations.

Dismissal of the remaining charges was announced Friday by Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, a Republican, and Johnson County District Attorney Steve Howe. The prosecutors said on Friday that Planned Parenthood had followed accepted medical practices in determining the age of fetuses.

The decision drew a swift response from Planned Parenthood.

"This case has been an abuse of political power, pure and simple," Pedro Irigonegaray, counsel for Planned Parenthood, said in a news release.

Kline was a controversial conservative crusader against abortion while in office. A Kansas disciplinary panel for attorneys last October found "ethical misconduct" in the way he prosecuted abortion providers and it recommended suspension of his law license indefinitely.

Planned Parenthood has come under attack across the country from Republicans opposed to abortion who have tried to cut off state funding for its clinics.

The women's health network has repeatedly clashed with conservatives in Kansas.

(Editing by Greg McCune)

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