Archive for Wednesday, April 4, 2001

Board delays abortion hearing

Doctor’s attorney argues timing could incite violence; pro-life advocate calls it a stall tactic

April 4, 2001

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— A Lawrence abortion provider's hearing that was scheduled here during Holy Week has been postponed after her attorney argued the timing could incite violence.

The decision by a panel of the Kansas Board of Healing Arts to delay the hearing into allegations against Dr. Kristin Neuhaus was blasted Tuesday by an anti-abortion advocate.

Joan Hawkins, executive director of the Wichita-based Kansans for Life, described postponement of the hearing as a tactic by the state to stall the investigation into Neuhaus.

"Her life is not in danger and never has been," Hawkins said of Neuhaus. "The greater concern is for the women in Neuhaus' care."

Neuhaus has been charged by state investigators with performing an abortion on a woman who had withdrawn consent. Neuhaus has denied the allegation through her attorney, Don Strole, also of Lawrence.

A three-person panel of the Kansas Board of Healing Arts, which regulates health care professions, was scheduled to hear evidence in the case April 11-13.

Holy Week starts Palm Sunday and continues through Holy Saturday, April 14.

Many of the anti-abortion protesters who picket Neuhaus' clinic in Lawrence identify themselves as Christians, and Easter is a major Christian holiday.

Strole requested "a more neutral date to avoid any possible incidence of violence during this volatile time."

The panel set a new date for the hearing: June 20-21 in the Shawnee County Courthouse.

In 1992, a clinic in Topeka where Neuhaus worked was targeted by anti-abortion advocates during Holy Week, Strole said. The protesters chained themselves around the clinic, he said.

But Hawkins said there was no increase of protest activity planned during Holy Week. If there is going to be a delay, she said, then Neuhaus' license should be suspended until the case is resolved.

Kelli Benintendi, the attorney for the Board of Healing Arts, also opposed moving the hearing until June. She said ample security would be provided in the Kansas Judicial Center, the location of the April hearing.

Emily Taylor of Lawrence, a member of the three-person panel that will hear the case, said the postponement seemed reasonable.

"There was no reason not to grant it," Taylor said.

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