Former Kansas Attorney General Paul Morrison filed 19 misdemeanor charges against Tiller in June 2007, alleging he broke a 1998 state law requiring that a second, independent Kansas physician sign off on late-term abortions of viable fetuses. Two doctors, without financial or legal ties, must conclude that if the pregnancy continues, the mother will die or face "substantial and irreversible" harm to "a major bodily function," which has been interpreted to include mental health.
Tiller relied on Dr. Ann Kristin Neuhaus, of Nortonville, for his second opinion on abortions in 2003, and she had a financial relationship with him that is against the law.
Tiller's attorneys contend that the law creates an unconstitutional burden on a physician's right to practice medicine and a woman's right to obtain an abortion. They also argued that the Kansas law was unconstitutionally vague. His defense attorneys also challenged it on the basis of violating a right to travel because of the requirement a woman be seen by two separate physicians in Kansas.
For Dr. Tiller, this means that he will still have to stand trial, where it will be decided whether or not he had a financial relationship with Dr. Neuhaus that might have made her second opinions illegal under the state's laws. For women, this ruling means that we are willing to risk their health as we create obstacles to their being able to receive a legal medical procedure. For doctors, this means that physicians who decide that a patient's continued pregnancy puts her at risk of "substantial and irreversible" harm runs the risk of having criminal charges brought against them.
Will this ruling put women at a greater risk from pregnancy related injury and death?