This weekend, during the parents’ visit to KC, I said, mostly joking, that every time I go up to see Chase, he gets me sick. I am a goddess of prescience, because the baby sneezed into my mouth (ack! ack! ack!) and today I am achey and just spent two hours shivering uncontrollably under all my heavy blankets. I’m allergic to that kid. So this makes three spells of the same sickness in the same month, perhaps. I have been sick FOREVER.
Ok, enough whining about that, because what I need to do is grit my teeth against the contraception questions and get over to Watkins and see a doctor. I just can’t wait. Nurse: “Are you sexually active?” Me: “Why, will it make my nose run?”
I have many other things to say today. One, there are all these interesting things going on, and The New York Times is wrapping it all up so nicely. First, today The Times made note of the fact that Sept. 11 has finally moved into literary fiction: “Literary Novelists Address 9/11, Finally” by Edward Wyatt. I have to say, though I want to, I’m not sure I could make it through Ian McEwan’s book, Saturday, which the times calls “saturated with a sense of dread.” Um… is that not every McEwan book? Lovely writing, though, I’ll bet. Also: Johnathan Safran Foer rejoins the mix with Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which “includes blank pages, pages with a single sentence on them, pages of nothing but numbers and numerous photographs, including a series of doctored images made to look like a body falling from the top of the World Trade Center.” Uh. His last book was, by the end, so complex and so shattering that I had to go curl up with something sweet and predictable, like Harry Potter 5, when I finished it.
Next, let’s move to The New York Times in Kansas. There’s this thing going on where we have an attorney general of evil, and the Times actually picked it up last week for a a story (“Kansas Prosecutor Demands Files on Late-Term Abortion Patients” by Jodi Wilgoren) and n editorial. Basically, the story is (in my understanding), ever since he came into office in 2002, super-anti abortion activist AG Phil Kline has been going gang-busters on enforcing the statutory rape law in Kansas. Interesting note: I don’t believe there’s an age gap in the current law, so a 15 year old and a 16 year old have sex, one is being raped and the other is going to jail. I’d like to submit, I think almost every kid in ‘The O.C.” would be in danger under this law, so good thing it’s all in California… and fictional. Anyway, both of my parents have actually dealt with the fall-out from that law, because briefly, by state law, if a girl under 16 admitted to sexual activity, health care workers were required to report that to the authorities — unless she was married, in which case the state throws you, I don’t know, a Traditional Values Party and sends you back to the farm to procreate. Using the Age of Consent law again, Kline has asked to see a bunch of records from abortion clinics in Kansas, because if a girl is pregnant under a certain age, then she’s been raped. Though his investigation supposedly focuses on the age factor, he’s asking for records for women well beyond the consent age, looking to make sure that the no-abortions-after-22-weeks law that he helped write hasn’t been violated. Do I need to say how much I dislike this man and his sleazy tactics and his evil? OK: I’m not a fan. Anyway, The Times picked this up for an editorial on Feb. 28, the text of which I’m putting in here because it’s already been archived and costs money if you don’t have the Lexis-Nexis hook-up: “What’s Secretly Wrong with Kansas.”
In a shocking abuse of office, the attorney general of Kansas is conducting a stealth campaign to violate the privacy of about 90 women who obtained late-term abortions, offering the flimsy claim that he’s looking for evidence of crime.
Protected by a sweeping gag order from a local judge, Attorney General Phill Kline has been demanding the women’s records from two clinics that have been unable to even warn clients that their intimate histories are being sought. When the inquiry finally came to light through a court brief, Mr. Kline maintained that he needed all the women’s records — including their identities, sexual histories, clinical profiles and birth control methods — to prosecute statutory rape and other suspected sexual crimes.
Kansans deserve a full explanation of this gross intrusion into medical confidences that are supposed to be carefully protected by law. But Mr. Kline, a fervid anti-abortion campaigner throughout his career as a Republican politician, would not answer reporters’ questions about his investigation. ”Clinics should not act to protect the secrecy of the predator,” he insisted in a statement, offering a blanket smear in lieu of a proper explanation.
Mr. Kline’s campaign echoes a similar salvo last year by Attorney General John Ashcroft. Federal judges eventually cited privacy laws to stop his attempt to forage through hundreds of records at a half-dozen hospitals. Two years ago, Mr. Kline called on health-care providers to report underage sexual activity, but a federal judge ruled him out of line. Mr. Kline deserves another rebuff, beginning with the suspension of the gag order.
The targeted clinics say they have observed state requirements to report possible crimes. They have filed an appeal to the State Supreme Court, complaining that Mr. Kline is conducting a fishing expedition, not a case-specific inquiry. The clinics have suggested a compromise — that the identities of the women be blacked out with the option for more information from any whose records might yield evidence of crimes like statutory rape.
It’s not at all clear how that crime is linked in particular to late-term abortions, which just happen to be the current target of Republican anti-abortion activists across the country. Late-term abortions — beyond 22 weeks of gestation — are illegal in Kansas, except when they are done to protect a woman’s health. But Mr. Kline offers no evidence to suggest he has any legal ground to justify pawing through the confidential records of the 90 women he has targeted for his mission of harassment. As for predatory abuse of girls under the age of sexual consent, they could have obtained abortions earlier than 22 weeks.
There is no disputing that Mr. Kline has the duty and power to uphold the law. No one wishes child abusers to walk free. But Mr. Kline also has privacy laws to uphold. His demand for the clinics’ records is not only insupportable legally; it smacks of an ideological dragnet.
Copyright © 2005 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. and The New York Times. All Rights Reserved.
The good news here is that the LJ-World printed a story yesterday (“Kline Finds Home in Spotlight” by John Hanna, AP) saying Kline may be positioning himself to run for Governor in 2006, to which I say “Please, please, please.” We got our current woman Democrat because the Republicans tore themselves up in a conservative vs. moderate primary, and I’d like to keep her.
OK, finally, and this is for locals only, laugh with me at the irony and the necessity: “City distributing fliers on how to drive through roundabouts,” by Chad Lawhorn.