Anti-abortion activists in Kansas are using an obscure 19th-century statute to convene grand juries to hear evidence against abortion-performing doctors, the New York Times reports. In several states, citizens who collect enough signatures can circumvent prosecutors and order their own investigation of an alleged crime. A Kansas doctor, for example, is being investigated to see if he performs illegal late-term abortions.
Critics decry the tactic as political harassment. “This is an abuse of the grand jury system,” said one Republican state senator from Kansas. “It’s being used in a political way to further a political cause.” One anti-abortion advocate disagreed: “This is a measure for the people to get some justice,” he said, “and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”