The high court returned the case to a lower court judge who granted Attorney General Phill Kline's request to subpoena the records of 90 patients from two clinics.
Kline claimed that the records were necessary for investigations into sexual abuse of underage girls, alleged failure to report suspected abuse by the clinics and into illegal late-term abortions. Under Kansas law, abortions after 22 weeks require a viability test and a viable fetus can only be aborted to save the life or health of a pregnant woman.
"The type of information sought by the state here could hardly be more sensitive, or the potential harm to patient privacy posed by disclosure more substantial," Justice Carol Baer wrote in a unanimous opinion. "Judge Anderson's order does not do all it can to narrow the information gathered or to safeguard that information from unauthorized disclosure once it is in the district court's hands."
Kline is an outspoken abortion rights opponent. Last week, a federal judge dismissed his suit to compel the state to stop paying for Medicaid abortions.