Government & Politics

Kansas sanctions Missouri doctor over 13-year-old’s abortion

Planned Parenthood’s clinic in Overland Park.
Planned Parenthood’s clinic in Overland Park. Google Earth

Kansas suspended a former Planned Parenthood physician-contractor’s state medical license for 90 days for failing to preserve a fetal tissue sample from a 13-year-old girl’s abortion so that it could be sent to authorities.

The State Board of Healing Arts concluded that Allen S. Palmer violated Kansas law during the December 2014 abortion at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Overland Park. The suspension affects the St. Louis area doctor’s ability to practice medicine in Kansas, but not elsewhere.

Kansas requires fetal tissue to be preserved when an abortion patient is younger than 14, for submission to the Kansas Bureau of Investigation or an approved lab. A document in the case said the girl said she had sex with a 19-year-old boyfriend; sex with anyone younger than 14 is considered rape under Kansas law.

“The potential injury from this violation is severe in that a failure to preserve and submit fetal tissue may hinder a criminal prosecution,” the board said in its order last week.

The board said the suspension would run through Dec. 7. The regional Planned Parenthood affiliate, now Planned Parenthood Great Plains, self-reported the issue to the state less than a month after the abortion. Palmer no longer provides services for the clinic.

Palmer said during an August board hearing that he was “as shocked and awed by this failure as anybody here” but maintained he made an inadvertent mistake. He testified that he didn’t know the girl’s age, relied on Planned Parenthood’s staff to tell him when a patient was under 14 and didn’t perform abortions on girls that young.

He was a part-time contractor performing first-trimester abortions. He was filling in for a vacationing clinic medical director at the time of the girl’s abortion. He has been licensed in Kansas to practice surgery and osteopathic medicine since 2008.

His attorney, Thomas Theis, of Topeka, did not immediately return a telephone message seeking comment. Telephone listings for Palmer in Clayton and St. Louis County, Missouri, had been disconnected.

Palmer can ask the board to reconsider its action or seek to overturn it with a lawsuit.

The board noted that during his hearing, Palmer acknowledged that he had not reviewed the abortion patient’s medical history. Had Palmer reviewed the patient’s history, “her age would have been ascertained,” the board said.

Palmer also said he was bound by Planned Parenthood’s procedures. The board said those procedures had “inadequacies,” though the Planned Parenthood affiliate reported revising them after the December 2014 abortion so that a patient’s age would be more readily identified from electronic medical records. Its spokeswoman, Bonyen Lee-Gilmore, declined to comment on Palmer’s case.