Archive for Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Loss of license ordered in Kansas abortion case

February 22, 2012


— A state administrative judge has ordered the revocation of a Kansas doctor’s license over her referrals of young patients to the late Dr. George Tiller for late-term abortions, concluding their care was “seriously jeopardized” by inadequate mental health examinations.

In an order that became public Tuesday, the judge said Dr. Ann Kristen Neuhaus failed to meet accepted standards of care in performing exams on 11 patients, ages 10 to 18, who had late-term abortions at Tiller’s clinic in Wichita from July to November 2003. The judge said Neuhaus’ records did not contain the information necessary to show she did thorough exams.

Kansas law required Tiller to get an opinion from another doctor to terminate the pregnancies. Neuhaus said each patient’s mental health issues were serious enough to allow each procedure to go forward.

Neuhaus, from Nortonville, a small town about 30 miles north of Lawrence, doesn’t have an active medical practice, but her license allows her to provide limited charity care, and she’s seeking to make it fully active again. It wasn’t clear Tuesday how quickly she’d have to stop providing charity care under Judge Ed Gaschler’s order.

The order must be reviewed by the State Board of Healing Arts, which licenses and regulates physicians, most likely at an April 13 meeting. If the board makes Gaschler’s order final, Neuhaus still could file a legal challenge.

“We are in the process of reviewing the order and whether an appeal is advisable,” said Bob Eye, an attorney for Neuhaus.

Gaschler heard evidence on a complaint filed by the Board of Healing Arts’ top litigation attorney in April 2010. The case centered on how Neuhaus reached her conclusions and whether she adequately documented the reasons behind each diagnosis. Her reports, compiled with a “PsychManager Lite” computer program, were five pages or less and don’t cite details from patients’ statements or data gleaned from her exams.

The administrative judge said that in some cases, the young patients were described as suicidal, but Neuhaus didn’t recommend further treatment. The judge said Neuhaus simply “answered yes/no questions” using the computer program and assigned whatever diagnosis “the computer gave.”

“The care and treatment of the 11 patients in question was seriously jeopardized by the Licensee’s care,” Gaschler wrote.

Julie Burkhart, a former Tiller employee and founder of the abortion-rights group Trust Women, questioned whether Neuhaus’ case was handled fairly and whether Neuhaus can receive a fair hearing from the Board of Healing Arts, with Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, a strong abortion opponent, in office. Burkhart said Neuhaus is a target for anti-abortion officials.

“There’s a political agenda here, and it seems that Dr. Neuhaus is the one who can be brought before the board and punished,” Burkhart said. “The agenda is to discredit her.”

Gaschler signed the order and mailed it to the parties Friday. The anti-abortion group Operation Rescue obtained a copy and posted it online Tuesday.

The board’s executive director, Kathleen Selzler Lippert, confirmed the authenticity of the posting but declined to comment because the board hasn’t reviewed Gaschler’s order.

The case initially stemmed from a 2006 complaint by Cheryl Sullenger, senior policy adviser for Operation Rescue. And Mary Kay Culp, executive director of the anti-abortion group Kansans for Life, which scrutinized Neuhaus for years, said the evidence against the doctor was “crushing.”

Neuhaus performed abortions herself in Wichita and Lawrence but stopped in 2002. She provided second opinions for Tiller from 1999 through 2006. Under Kansas law at the time, abortions at or after the 22nd week of pregnancy, if the fetus was viable, were allowed if the patient faced death or “substantial and irreversible” harm to “a major bodily function,” including mental health. Legislators tightened the law last year so that it no longer includes the mental health exception.

“It was just a sham,” Sullenger said, who praised Gaschler’s order and described Neuhaus’ as helping Tiller in “circumventing the law.”

Tiller was among a few U.S. physicians performing late-term abortions and was shot to death in May 2009 by a man professing strong anti-abortion beliefs.

Tiller once faced misdemeanor criminal charges that alleged, in relying on Neuhaus for referrals, he wasn’t getting the independent second medical opinion required by state law. He was acquitted two months before his murder, but at the time of his death, a separate complaint was pending before the Board of Healing Arts.


JayhawkFan1985 2 years, 2 months ago

I'm tired of the right wing hypocrisy. They hate Obama are because it forces them to buy insurance against their will, but they have no problem demanding women have ultrasounds prior to getting an abortion even against their will. They try to gut health insurance policies. They also create a climate of fear and intimidation that resulted in Dr. Tiller's murder. Now they are going after Dr. Neuhaus questioning the standard of care she offered. All the while the GOP guts the social services support system including public education, higher education, emergency services for families in crisis, WIC, food stamps, etc. Hypocrites will spend an eternity in hellfire without repenting...


ShePrecedes 2 years, 2 months ago

Just as the Religious Rite wants, abortion is headed yet again to the dirty back rooms, and the churches are headed toward empty pews.


jjt 2 years, 2 months ago

Same as usual.

I posted my question at 09.00 this morning and at 8pm still no one who says all abortion is wrong has addressed my four questions with a reason as to why there should not be an abortion in each case.


lunacydetector 2 years, 2 months ago

how many rapes were reported from these pregnancies?


Kirk Larson 2 years, 2 months ago

Freedom of Choice, it's the American Way!


Pragmatron 2 years, 2 months ago

Don't these old white MEN have anything better to do? I get it. All government is evil except when I say so.


bgreve 2 years, 2 months ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.


jhawkinsf 2 years, 2 months ago

If anyone believes that the law that requires a second opinion, an opinion as to the mental health of a woman seeking a late term abortion, is just a cynical attempt to hinder a woman's right to an abortion, I would have to agree. That said, in these cases, there is equal cynicism in trying to avoid complying with the law by making inappropriate referrals to unqualified professionals that resulted in harm being done to the very people they were seeking to help. As doctors, they were expected to know better.


ratfamily 2 years, 2 months ago

First of all I've heard that life begins at 40, not conception... so i don't see what the big deal is.

Also, after I read eveyone's comments, I had the urge to take a massive dump. I mean, this thing is huge. I may have to get a stick to break it up so it will flush. These comments, they're better than Activia!!!


Ray Parker 2 years, 2 months ago

BOHA called Neuhaus' illegal phony mental health diagnoses in second opinions excusing George Tiller’s illegal post-viable abortions incompetent and unprofessional. Some of her mental evaluations were begun days or weeks after Tiller’s killing of the viable baby of the mother in question. There remains no doubt whatsoever that dangerous, criminal abortionist quack Tiller’s medical license would also have been revoked, if he had not been shot down in a vigilante killing.


jjt 2 years, 2 months ago

All abortion is wrong?

Would it be possible please for those who take the view that all abortion is wrong to answer the practical challenges to their views. For example children who are pregnant or the woman carrying a dead fetus, or a clearly unviable fetus, rape victims. Would some one who is happy to post anti abortion views (and that is their right) simply give a view / answer for each of those four examples. Thanks.


its_just_math 2 years, 2 months ago

It's predictable that the forum pro-abortion zealots are harping on the very, very small fraction of abortions that are performed on pre-pubescent girls, in order to try and justify what this quack (Neuhaus) did. Giving clearance to a teen girl who was upset she could not ride the rodeo circuit or another because she discovered it took the fun out of playing basketball and calling it a "major depressive disorder -single episode" is quackery at in it's worst form.


jafs 2 years, 2 months ago

I'll be interested to see what happens with an appeal, if there is one.


its_just_math 2 years, 2 months ago

Does this surprise anyone? And the forum rabid pro-abortion zealots call us who are not in favor of unfettered and late term abortion: "extremists". Wow!

Seems to me Nuehaus is the extremist.

And the utterly despicable Burkhart is calling saying it's a political witch hunt. Wow again!


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 2 years, 2 months ago

So in the judge's opinion, forcing 11-year-olds to carry a pregnancy to term would have been the preferred recommendation?

That's just sick. You have to wonder if this judge would order the doctor's execution if he could.


Amy Heeter 2 years, 2 months ago

A good call. Stop the slaughter!


Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 2 months ago

"Neuhaus said each patient’s mental health issues were serious enough to allow each procedure to go forward."

As I understand the situation, Dr. Ann Kristen Neuhaus is not and never was a psychiatrist. So how in the world could Dr. Ann Kristen Neuhaus have any idea what she was doing? She had no training at all in the disorders she was diagnosing!

It might have been within the letter of the law in the past for a general practitioner of medicine to determine that "each patient’s mental health issues were serious enough to allow each procedure to go forward," but such a diagnosis is certainly far outside of the training that a general practitioner of medicine receives in medical school, and she should have known that.

"Legislators tightened the law last year so that it no longer includes the mental health exception."

That is a very good thing. If an abortion ever is required for mental health problems, and I certainly hope it is not, only a psychiatrist could make that determination.

There is a very serious problem that many women face, and that is classic Freudian denial of pregnancy. Meaning that many woman mentally suppress the reality of a pregnancy far too long. That is very common, and extremely unfortunate. I have no idea what a possible solution to that problem might be.


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