The newly elected Kansas attorney general fired a special prosecutor Tuesday whom his predecessor had appointed to prosecute the state’s most visible abortion provider.
Don McKinney had been hired to investigate Dr. George Tiller, one of the few doctors in the nation to perform late-term abortions. McKinney has previously protested outside Tiller’s clinic. His last day will be Saturday.
“You are further ordered to cease and desist any further activity in this matter,” Attorney General Paul Morrison wrote in a letter to McKinney.
McKinney said he had been fired to “protect the abortion clinics.”
“Morrison said he would fire me because I was not a ‘neutral third party.’ That’s a smoke screen,” McKinney said. “Nobody is neutral about aborting late-term babies. A special prosecutor isn’t supposed to be neutral; he’s supposed to prosecute the defendant.”
He has said Morrison was beholden to the doctor, who helped finance at least $248,000 in advertising in 2002 and 2006 against the previous attorney general, Phill Kline.
Kline obtained patient records from Tiller and other abortion providers after a two-year legal battle, but his attempt to charge Tiller in Sedwick County late last month failed because of a jurisdiction issue.
Kline alleges that Tiller performed 15 illegal late-term abortions in 2003 on patients ages 10 to 22 and failed to properly report the details of the procedures to state health officials.
Tiller’s attorneys say the allegations are groundless. Don Monnat, a Wichita attorney representing Tiller, said patient privacy remains a big concern because McKinney has protested against the doctor.
A legal battle over patient records lasted two years, with Kline obtaining edited versions in October.
Kline issued a statement Tuesday saying Morrison “fired an independent prosecutor with a well-respected legal career and terminated a contract that provided that prosecutor with independent authority.”