Archive for Friday, June 22, 2012

Kansas revokes doctor’s license in abortion case

June 22, 2012


— Kansas regulators on Friday revoked the medical license of a doctor accused of performing inadequate mental health exams on young patients she then referred to the late Dr. George Tiller for late-term abortions.

The State Board of Healing Arts ratified an administrative judge's earlier decision to strip Dr. Ann Kristin Neuhaus of her license. Neuhaus provided second opinions that Tiller needed under Kansas law to perform some late-term abortions at his Wichita clinic. Tiller, one of a few U.S. physicians known to perform abortions in the final weeks of pregnancy, was shot to death in May 2009 by a man professing strong anti-abortion views.

The administrative judge concluded in February that Neuhaus performed inadequate mental health exams in 2003 on 11 patients, aged 10 to 18. The judge said Neuhaus' records didn't contain the information necessary to show that she did thorough exams, and the patients' care was "seriously jeopardized."

"Her actions clearly show a disregard for her patients' safety and care, which causes her to be a threat to any future patients she might have," said Reese Hays, the attorney on the board's litigation team who presented the case against Neuhaus.

Neuhaus has argued that her exams met accepted standards of care, and some abortion rights supporters questioned whether she could receive a fair hearing from the board, with Republican Gov. Sam Brownback, a strong abortion opponent, in office for almost 18 months. Neuhaus said she'll ask the state's courts to overturn the board's decision.

"It's all about abortion rights, absolutely," she said after the board's decision. "If this wasn't in the Bible Belt, I think this wouldn't even be happening."

Abortion opponents have been a force in the Republican Party in GOP-leaning Kansas for two decades and have solid legislative majorities. Since Brownback took office in January 2011, the state has imposed tighter restrictions on abortion, written special health and safety rules for abortion providers and limited private health insurance coverage for elective abortions.

Neuhaus, who is from Nortonville, a small town about 30 miles north of Lawrence, has an inactive medical license that allows her to provide limited charity care, but she had asked the board to reinstate her to a full, active license. The revocation will formally take effect when the board puts its decision in writing and delivers a copy to Neuhaus, possibly next week.

The board discussed her case in closed sessions for about 30 minutes before reconvening to formally revoke her license as Neuhaus and her attorneys watched. Sitting behind her was Troy Newman, president of the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, which pursued a complaint against her.

The case centered on how Neuhaus concluded that each of the 11 patients had serious mental health issues and that an abortion was advisable. The law required Tiller to obtain an independent second opinion that a patient faced significant and permanent harm if the pregnancy continued. Neuhaus provided such assessments for Tiller from 1999 to 2006.

Neuhaus' reports for him, 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."

Neuhaus strongly disputes the judge's characterization of how she used the program and testified during a hearing that she sometimes refused to allow abortions to go forward.

She also testified that she didn't put more details in her records to protect patients' privacy. After the hearing, she said she was "unapologetic" for that, noting the Kansas attorney general's office began investigating abortion providers, including Tiller, starting early in 2003, and in 2006, Fox television's Bill O'Reilly strongly criticized Tiller and discussed a few of his patients' cases on his program.

The case stemmed from a 2006 complaint by Cheryl Sullenger, senior policy adviser for Operation Rescue. The anti-abortion group Kansans for Life also had scrutinized Neuhaus for years and raised questions about her activities. Newman said after the hearing that the board's decision "was justified, and this is only on 11 records, not on the countless others she did the exact same thing for."

Neuhaus had performed abortions in Wichita and Lawrence but stopped in 2002. When she provided second opinions for Tiller, Kansas law restricted abortions at or after the 22nd week of pregnancy if the fetus was viable. In those cases, pregnancies could be terminated only 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.

Tiller once faced misdemeanor criminal charges that alleged, in relying on Neuhaus for referrals, that 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.


ShePrecedes 1 year, 9 months ago

A, think I am going to report the the board of healiing arts my cousin's Dr. for Rx-ing anti-depressants, since they are now found to be unqualified to prescribe those mental health drugs.

AND those anti-psychotic dugs that are KILLING (!!!) our elderly should be reevaluated and Dr.'s who Rx them should be prosecuted. If your anti-psychotic-laden Grandpa has died in the last 7 years, It is high time the Dr. was prosecuted.

Let's take this ruling as far as it will go!! Let's eliminate a massive amount of Dr.s who are doing the very same thing as Neuhous. Time to go, Docs.


Cait McKnelly 1 year, 9 months ago

"Politicians were not elected to, nor should they, legislate the practice of medicine or dictate the parameters of the doctor-patient relationship. Our message to politicians is unequivocal: Get out of our exam rooms."

President, American Congress
of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Washington, May 22, 2012


notajayhawk 1 year, 10 months ago

This case has nothing to do with abortion. At issue here is a physician who assigned psychiatric diagnoses without documenting the basis for those diagnoses. There are either two possibilities here: a) As the board alleged, she rubber-stamped the diagnoses without performing an adequate examination and history of the patients; or b) as she alleges, she performed the examinations and histories and did not adequately document them in the medical record. Now, here's the thing: In EITHER eventuality, that is cause, under Kansas statute (and the laws pretty much anywhere else in the United States), for a finding of professional incompetence and revocation of her license to practice. And that's not even mentioning the utterly unconscionable omission of not referring SUICIDAL patients for follow-up. Actually, given that she claims she DELIBERATELY withheld information from the medical record, she's darned lucky she wasn't also up on felony charges (something applicable, again, anywhere in the United States). Now, was she under particular scrutiny because of the purpose for which she was providing these diagnoses? Quite possibly. That being the case, however, she was doubly the fool for providing the board with all they needed to revoke her license. We don't need physicians in this state that perform diagnoses by accepting the recommendation of a computer program (against the directions of the program provider, incidentally); we don't need physicians that deliberately falsify medical records; and we don't need physicians that are just plain stupid.


Centerville 1 year, 10 months ago

You had me going there, up until you cited the Southern Law Poverty Center. Very funny.


Cait McKnelly 1 year, 10 months ago

You know it's interesting to note that the person who brought the original complaint against Dr. Neuhaus was Cheryl Sullenger. Cozy up here and let me tell you a bit about Ms. Sullenger. Cheryl Sullenger is second in command of Operation Rescue; an organization deemed a "domestic terrorist group" by the Southern Poverty Law Center. She is a convicted felon. Her crime? Attempting to blow up (with explosives, kiddies, not bubble bath or bubble gum) an abortion clinic. She has also been convicted of federal crimes against the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act. When Scott Roeder was apprehended after murdering Dr. George Tiller, she lied and initially denied even knowing him. Confronted with the fact that her private cell phone number was found in Roeder's possession (on the dash of his car, no less, for easy access) she made the excuse that all she did was "advise Roeder of Tiller's court dates". Yeah, uh huh. And if you believe that, I have some beach front property in New Mexico to sell you.
She made the initial complaint against Dr. Neuhaus on the basis of information "leaked" to Operation Rescue. That information most likely came from Phill Kline. By the time she made her complaint, Kline was no longer in Kansas yet was still in possession of copies of all the records he managed to abscond with to Virginia. However, there is no way to prove this.
Dr. Neuhaus intends to appeal this decision to the courts. Given the circumstances under which the complaint was made and the kangaroo court that decided it, I hope she succeeds, not just because I'm pro-choice, (which I admittedly am) but because this action makes a mockery of the law.


Loretta James 1 year, 10 months ago

It's only a baby when its wanted but I'll stand up for the babys any day and as for a 10 year old sometimes abortion is the answer but whats worse delivery or the abortion its self i watched a friend years ago after she had one i think i'll take the delivery. Babys some of us our on your side we love ya all


FalseHopeNoChange 1 year, 10 months ago

Now how are we going to 'clean up' the population when 'Margaret Sanger' proteges are hunted down. These complex Liberal women need docs like this to 'complete' their lives.

Maybe she can 'practice' her trade in Detroit or Missouri.


KillerKitten 1 year, 10 months ago

Abortion should remain legal as stated in Roe vs Wade. People who crusade against abortion so passionately ignore the issue of the mother's life. Regardless of what the laws say, women are still going to get abortions. The only thing banning abortion would do it force women into extremely unsafe, even potentially life-threatening, situations in which they'd seek unsafe procedures. Abortion provider witch hunts do nothing but oppress women.

I stand 100% by a woman's right to choose. Every single woman and every single pregnancy and situation is different. The decision whether or not to have an abortion is NOT black and white. It is a personal decision that only a woman and the people she trusts (as in, people SHE approaches for advice, not those her force their opinions on her) can make.

Keeping safe, medical abortions legal is not going to encourage more people to get abortions. Just because it's legal, does NOT automatically mean every pregnant woman out there is going to have the procedure.

As I write this, I'm really coming to understand exactly how the issue of abortion in this country really does trample on civil rights. The old farts in the Capital can't trust me to make my own medical decision. So they make it for me. Like they can't trust two people in love to make their own, personal decision about marriage. Like they couldn't trust a person of color to choose where they sit on the freakin bus.

Hey Government: why don't you just send me packages of food every week so you control exactly what I put into my body? Force me to exercise. Ban hair cuts. Make me take out my piercings. Issue me a uniform.

You know what? We can make babies in test tubes now. Why even bother with pesky women anymore? Female infanticide works in other countries, right? Why not America? You're shooting yourselves in the foot here, Government.


Kyle Neuer 1 year, 10 months ago

Amazing how "conservatives" loathe Big Government until it's an issue on their target list. But, you guys clearly know more about every medical situation than the families and physicians actually involved.


Liberty275 1 year, 10 months ago

"If this wasn't in the Bible Belt, I think this wouldn't even be happening."

This isn't the bible belt. Go live in South Carolina a bit and you'll see.

Also, five pages? Really? My doctor at least a page every time he reads my blood pressure. Surely the mental and physical state of a child put into a dangerous position deserves a magnitude more detail and records than my BP. HIPPA law protects her from anything but a warrant, so her admission to keeping poor records to "protect" the young person is not only ethically lazy and bankrupt but also an admission to concealing evidence from the judicial system.

As much as you leftists support abortion, you can't really support this woman that failed to do her very important job. If you really cared about the girls, you wouldn't support such a poor doctor to protect them. You should be praising her removal in hopes we get a doctor that will examine every bit of the girl's history and mental and health condition. Five pages? Make it at least ten. The life and future of a fellow human is in your care. Take time to give a hoot.

As for larryville , all I see on the left is typical kneejerk reaction clouding people's judgment and on the right the usual suspects exploiting the failure of the abortion-indusrial-complex for political gain.


Gart 1 year, 10 months ago

"Neuhaus concluded that each of the 11 patients had serious mental health issues and that an abortion was advisable."

This is a great example of some of the weirdos, including "Uncle Adolf", who learned Eugenics from our own country........

Some just never learn........


Bob Harvey 1 year, 10 months ago

Ok two questions. The first. Regardless of how folks feel or believe there is the issue of the law and regulations of the Board of Healing Arts. If the doctor did not follow both of those issues, and indeed did not perform the exams she was required to perform then I have a problem. This has nothing to do with abortion or a woman's right to choose. If a physician did not perform his/her duties as prescribed then that is wrong. From reading the article it seems as it was her responsibile to conducting mental health evaluations on those women making a very difficult decision. If the physician did not do that then she was wrong and went against the Board she was required to follow.

Secondly, and probably more important. Why must the folks of Lawrence always make the issue of abortion a political party issue. The "Right" is called all sort of vile names with sophmoric glee. Can those who proclaim this witchhunt of the right honestly tell me that they know it to be true that not one Democrat or Liberal has a problem with abortion?

Before I become the next witch to be burned in the rhetoric of the Lawrence blogs please know that I support a woman's right to choose. I am also one who would say, I wish abortions did not happen, but I understand it is not my right to decide what is right for another.


woodscolt 1 year, 10 months ago

Right wing wacko criminal republicans war on women continues. they will get their comeuppance.


tange 1 year, 10 months ago

Seems there were a number of ills to be remedied, long before arrival at license revocation due to late-term abortion evaluation.


friendlyjhawk 1 year, 10 months ago

Abortion should be made available legally and medically safe to any woman who wants one, when they want it. I agree. This is always an emotional issue especially to men since it is a personal affront to men because even today a woman having control of her body is a threat to a man and his omnipotence. Woman want control of their body, men want control of everything!


ShePrecedes 1 year, 10 months ago

The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire. Robert A. Heinlein

Any system that takes responsiblity from the people dehumanizes them. Robert A. Heinlein

I am totally human and beyond someone else's control. I am pro-choice, The abortion issue is what made me stop being GOP and start fighting them tooth and nail. And they have totally suffered from having taken on the abortion issue, with party schisms that have now become legendary throughout the country.

Moderation in all things! Wisdom rests in where two extremes meet.


ShePrecedes 1 year, 10 months ago

Abotion should be made available legally and medically safe to anyone who wants one, when they want it.

You stupid GOP are responding to a mere base-stir, a decision that comes from somewhere outside this state, allowing your emotions to be manipulated for a reason. Go ahead, sit back and let your GOP leaders make your decisions for you, you COWS! Let's herd you this way, then that way. What a massive waste of time and energy this political topic is. And you GOP cows just bow down to the manipulations.


ShePrecedes 1 year, 10 months ago

So basically what we have here is a need to revemp mental health assessments in our medical Dr.'s.

It seems to me that from here on out, all those Dr.'s who RX prozac as well as other depression drugs must merely refer their clients to mental health professionals.

If you have not been informed by our slanted local media, Kansas is one of the states in greatest incidences of mental health issues in it's population. Which means that many, many Dr.'s within this state should be stripped of their license because their Rx-ed prozac and other anti-depressants to their clients without the appropriate professional license.


jhawkinsf 1 year, 10 months ago

This is the flip side of the doctors lying to patients bill. Here, we have a rubber stamp medical practitioner. Both are abhorrent.


Centerville 1 year, 10 months ago

No one was charged with statutory rape. Didn't you get the memo from Sibelius that these were all "Romeo and Juliet". And, therefore, perfectly reasonable that a 10-year-old would have a partial birth abortion, hand over the $5,000, and be returned, no questions asked, to her 'boyfriend'.


Leslie Swearingen 1 year, 10 months ago

I think this is a good idea as I see no justification for killing a healthy baby. I would hope that whoever got a ten year old pregnant was punished. In my opinion, ideally, young girls under eighteen would have a secluded place to retreat to during the pregnancy where they would be taken care of physically and mentally. I can see this as being very tough on the girl and I can see her needing a lot of support to get her though it. This way she would not have to deal with stares and whispers and her school work could continue with on site tutors so that she could return to school at a proper level. The baby would be adopted out with all parental rights severed and the records sealed. The girls would continue to receive the physical and mental health care they needed after a return to home. Their families should be a part of this and I would hope they would love and support their daughter and do everything they can to make her return as safe as possible.


just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 1 year, 10 months ago

Basically, this was a message from the anti-abortionists to any doctors who perform abortions, or participate in the process-- if we can't find someone to murder you, we'll run you out of your profession.


1 year, 10 months ago

Another example of the KS Republicans thinking women are property.

Ages 10 to 18? Were the "fathers" charged with statutory rape? Probably not because the good, upstanding men were enticed by the feminine wiles of these young women.

Troy Newman advocates murder and witch hunts. Send him back 4 centuries. He'll be right at home.


1 year, 10 months ago

She was the victim of a witch hunt.


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