Abortion Referrals Case Back Before Kansas Board
A Kansas board is considering whether to continue barring a physician from practicing medicine after scrutinizing her referrals of young patients for late-term abortions and finding that she kept inadequate records.
Dr. Ann Kristin Neuhaus will be back before the State Board of Healing Arts next week after successfully challenging a 2012 decision that she conducted substandard mental health exams in 2003 for 11 patients, aged 10 to 18. Her legally required second opinion about each patient's mental health issues allowed the late Dr. George Tiller's clinic in Wichita to terminate a pregnancy.
A Shawnee County judge earlier this year overturned the board's decision to revoke Neuhaus' license but upheld its finding that her record-keeping was inadequate. The judge sent her case back to the board, and staff attorneys representing a disciplinary panel still want to keep her from practicing medicine.
The board has a hearing set for Dec. 11.
Neuhaus, from the small town of Nortonville about 30 miles north of Lawrence, had a license allowing her to provide charity care but wants to return to having a full license. One of her attorneys, Bob Eye, said Tuesday that the influence of an "anti-choice clique" in state government is "the elephant in the living room" in Neuhaus' case.
"It's probably strengthened her view about protecting a woman's right to choose, because it's under attack," Eye said.
Abortion opponents have criticized Neuhaus for years, and the board's case was prompted by a 2006 complaint from an official with the Operation Rescue group. Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, who appoints the medical board's members, is a strong abortion opponent.
The board's staff declined to comment about the case because it's still pending. In a filing last month, attorneys noted that Neuhaus was sanctioned in 1999 and 2001 for keeping inadequate records.
The attorneys, Reese Hays and Jessica Bryson, said adequate record-keeping protects patients by preserving information important to their future care. They wrote that Neuhaus has "a pattern of misconduct."
Their filing said, "she has shown neither remorse nor any consciousness of the wrongfulness of her misconduct."
Neuhaus testified during a disciplinary hearing that she didn't put some information in her records to protect patients' privacy. But the board concluded that her records lacked pertinent information and in several cases were "wholly inadequate."
In 2003, state law restricted late-term abortions, and Tiller needed a second opinion in each case that a patient's physical or mental health would be seriously and permanently harmed if her pregnancy continued. Legislators tightened the law in 2011 so that it no longer contains a mental health exception.
Tiller was among a few doctors in the U.S. known to terminate pregnancies in their last months. A man professing strong anti-abortion views shot Tiller to death in May 2009 in the foyer of the doctor's church at the start of a Sunday service.