Topeka An attorney for Dr. Ann Kristin Neuhaus on Friday said she had no financial relationship with Dr. George Tiller in consulting on late-term abortions.
"Dr. Neuhaus wasn't paid anything by Dr. Tiller," said Jack Focht of Wichita. "She didn't have any financial relationship with him."
On Thursday, Attorney General Paul Morrison filed 19 misdemeanor charges against Tiller, alleging that he violated the late-term abortion law involving abortions in 2003. Tiller has denied any wrongdoing.
Under Kansas law, abortions after 22 weeks of pregnancy are illegal unless two physicians determine that continuation of the pregnancy threatens the life or health of the mother.
The two determining physicians cannot have any legal or financial ties, according to the law.
Morrison alleges that Neuhaus, of Nortonville, who was consulted as the second physician of record in 19 of the reviewed abortions, had financial ties to Tiller.
But Focht said that wasn't the case.
"He (Tiller) did not pay her for those referrals. I think he (Morrison) is making a strained interpretation of the law," Focht said.
Neuhaus has long ties to the Lawrence area. She operated an abortion clinic from 1997 to 2002 at 205 W. Eighth St.
Neuhaus said she had to close the clinic because of debt incurred from several weeks of inactivity in 2001 after the Kansas Board of Healing Arts began investigating an allegation that Neuhaus performed an abortion on a patient who had withdrawn consent. The charge was never substantiated.
In that case, under an agreement with the board, Neuhaus was told to comply with existing state laws on sedating and monitoring patients, keeping proper medical records and informing patients about the probable gestational ages of their fetuses. The agreement also ordered Neuhaus to use a more detailed consent form.
When Morrison was asked to elaborate on his allegation about a financial relationship between Tiller and Neuhaus, he declined.
Focht said it was his understanding that Neuhaus received payments from patients for consultations.
"There were a number of patients that she didn't agree with Dr. Tiller, and they didn't get late-term abortions," he said.
Focht confirmed that Neuhaus had been granted immunity from prosecution in an investigation into Tiller by Morrison's predecessor Phill Kline, who forced her to testify in a deposition.
Kline had listed Neuhaus as a witness in his case. Anti-abortion advocates had stated previously that Neuhaus would testify against Tiller.
Focht said Neuhaus wasn't "a turncoat witness. We were offended," by those statements.
Kline's charges, brought after he was defeated by Morrison but before he left office, were dismissed by a Sedgwick County court on jurisdictional issues. He had accused Tiller of not having sufficient grounds to conduct 15 late-term abortions, and failing to report details of those to state health officials.
Upon taking office, Morrison started an investigation, saying that Kline, an ardent opponent of abortion rights, had botched the case and engaged in unethical conduct in his zeal to score political points by prosecuting Tiller. Kline has denied the accusations and says that Morrison's charges in part validate his efforts to pursue Tiller.
Meanwhile, Larry Buening, executive director of the Kansas Board of Healing Arts, which regulates health care professionals, said his agency would be determining soon whether it should open an investigation of its own.
"We would be very interested in how this is resolved," Buening said.
The charges against Tiller are Class A misdemeanors punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Morrison said the charges were filed against Tiller because he performed the abortions.
A conviction also could jeopardize Tiller's license to practice medicine.
In cases filed against physicians, Buening said, the Healing Arts Board usually seeks guidance from the prosecutor on whether to launch an investigation or wait until the criminal proceeding is completed.