We’d like to examine Phill Kline the same way he wants to probe Kansas women.

Dr. Phill 

We’d like to examine Phill Kline the same way he wants to probe Kansas women.

I want to know the last time Phill Kline went to the doctor and what for.

I have clear reason to suspect that he could have booked an appointment with the board-certified surgeons at the Hair Transplant Center of Greater Kansas City. I'm not suggesting that these doctors have done anything wrong. I do, however, have a compelling interest in the matter.

Based on his most recent actions, which over the past few weeks have earned him headlines from The New York Times to The Los Angeles Times, I also have reason to suspect that the Kansas attorney general may have sought and received a prescription for a certain type of medication known to increase cockiness. To be certain, however, I would need access to Kline's full medical history.

This would include detailed information on any rectal examinations, because if nothing else, Kansans now have additional evidence that their top lawyer continues to be a flaming-red A-hole.

Seriously. I want to see his records.

Not being the attorney general, however, I lack the legal authority to act as a one-man grand jury and subpoena them.

Ninety women aren't so lucky. By now, people all over the country know that Kline subpoenaed those women's records from two abortion clinics in what had been a secret, gag-ordered, yearlong investigation until the news broke in February. Kline said he was investigating suspected child abuse and illegal late-term abortions, providing perfect rhetorical explanations to justify his latest political opportunism. What could possibly be wrong with using all means necessary to prosecute child abusers? And, hey, even pro-choicers aren't thrilled about abortions after the point at which a fetus is "viable."

The clinics argued that they already report suspected cases of child abuse to the appropriate state agencies. Besides, less than 10 percent of the records Kline wants are those of kids younger than 15, which is the age of consent in Kansas, says Planned Parenthood head Peter Brownlie. And if Kline were looking for evidence of illegal late-term abortions in the other records, he could have subpoenaed the medical tests doctors perform after the 22nd week of pregnancy to determine whether the fetus is viable, Brownlie says. Kline doesn't need entire medical files -- with write-ups of gyno exams, notes about sexual activities, lists of prescriptions and all sorts of other information that he has no business knowing about women who technically aren't suspected of doing anything wrong.

After all, the oh-so-sensitive Kline really does care about their feelings. "It is truly unfortunate that once again there is an effort to strike fear in the hearts of those who have sought abortion services by somehow claiming that information that is personal will be made public," Kline told reporters at a national press conference on March 23. Yeah, it's truly unfortunate that they're too scared to walk through the doors of Planned Parenthood now.

Phill Kline has probably already reduced the number of abortions in Kansas! Hurray!

But the members of Dr. Phill's fan club might want to think twice about the implications of his argument. After all, 412,697 Kansans voted the grandstander into office in 2002. Which means that more than 50,000 of them are probably among the one in seven Americans who have done something "out of the ordinary" to keep their medical information confidential, according to the Washington, D.C.-based Health Privacy Project. "To protect their privacy and avoid embarrassment, stigma, and discrimination," the organization reports, "people withhold information from their health care providers, provide inaccurate information, doctor-hop to avoid a consolidated medical record, pay out-of-pocket for care that is covered by insurance, and ... avoid care altogether."

Obviously, Kline's righteous base also includes plenty of men -- and we all know how men feel about going to the doctor. The American Medical Association reports that 7 million American men haven't seen one in a decade and are generally reluctant to reveal personal information when they do go.

Those guys, I imagine, might be damned uncomfortable at the idea of a judge the next county over poring through their charts with a strange lawyer and a couple of doctors they don't even know but who have been appointed by some high-minded attorney in Topeka.

But that's what Kline's 90 women are in for if the Kansas Supreme Court decides that the clinics have to comply with his subpoena.

According to court filings, their records would be kept with Shawnee County District Judge Richard Anderson, who has promised that Kline won't see them -- at first, anyway. An attorney selected by Anderson and one or more doctors nominated by Kline will vet the files. These henchmen -- sorry, these completely objective, disinterested physicians whom Kline has nominated -- must then explain to Anderson why there's good reason for any of the original records to be copied. If so, Anderson has graciously promised to "consider" allowing the women's names to be blacked out before those copies are released.

"It's little comfort to the woman to know that her medical records have been turned over to, in this case, it's likely to be three or four men, who may live in the community in which she lives," Brownlie said at Planned Parenthood's own national press conference on March 23. "They may have access to all of her information and may decide at some point later what to do with that information. Investigate us if he must -- we have nothing to hide," Brownlie said. But, he added, it was wrong to expect doctors to violate the confidentiality of patients who aren't suspected of crimes.

Oh, sure, people are nervous about their medical privacy, Kline devotees would argue, but abortion is different. It's so immoral that the women who demand it don't deserve the same protections as the rest of us. But if that's true, then God should be the judge, not some man on the Shawnee County bench. Meanwhile, the rest of us still have some rights -- for now, anyway.


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