Hard to Characterize these Abortion Providers as “Victims”

By Kathy Ostrowski, Kansans for Life Legislative Director

Abortionist Ann Kristin Neuhaus

Some recent pro-abortion media entries, along with a piece in today’s Los Angeles Times, bemoan the alleged “hounding” of Mila Means, a would-be Kansas abortionist, and Kris Neuhaus, an ex-abortionist facing the imminent loss of her medical license. Collectively, the accounts blame a pro-life governor and pro-life bills (which are conveniently mischaracterized), in the process ignoring that both women have a disciplinary history with the state Healing Arts Board.

According to Times reporter Jenny Deam, in the summer of 2010, “Means began going each weekend to Kansas City, Kan., to learn first trimester abortion procedure.”  For $20,000 she bought out the equipment of another abortionist “which cut deeply into her practice’s meager budget.” So, according to the story, why is Means not doing abortions? “It’s the lawmakers who now prove to be her most daunting opponent,” Deam writes. “She says she doesn’t dare go forward now. So she waits.”

Really? No.

In fact, there is no practical barrier to opening an abortion business in Kansas. State health department rules for abortion clinics developed in 2011–while attained by Planned Parenthood– were successfully enjoined by the other two Kansas abortion clinics. According to press accounts, Julie Burkhart (a former assistant to the late abortionist George Tiller) is fund-raising to open a Wichita abortion clinic, but won’t say who she has tapped to be the  abortionist. She could hire Means, who already lives there.

According to the Times, Means is being deterred by suggested provisions in current abortion bill HB 2598 that abortionists perform a 2-minute sonogram with a $29 Doppler machine, and that such businesses be denied tax incentives. That is hardly “daunting.”

It is just easier to portray Means as a heroine, prevented from being in business by an oppressive legal climate! This media portrait is a similar to the “martyr frame” shaped for Kris Neuhaus by Kansas N.O.W.

In fact Means is “waiting” for other reasons. Perhaps it has something to do with an extensive, unsettling profile of Means done by Fred Mann of the Wichita Eagle last June (www.kansas.com/2011/06/23/1904507/doctors-plan-for-clinic-continues.html).  Mann’s account showed Means to be a 57-year-old, floundering physician in permanent financial hock, whose personal life was in shambles, but who nonetheless claimed she was not embarking upon providing abortions to make money.

As for Neuhaus, under ordinary circumstances, she would already have lost her medical license—first in 1999 due to federal drug agency penalties, and again in 2001, after the Kansas Healing Arts Board twice described her as a “danger to the public.”

Just this past week an administrative law ruling revoked her license, subject to Board approval.

The petition to revoke, filed in April of 2010, “accuses Neuhaus of negligence in conducting mental health exams for 11 patients, ages 10 to 18, who terminated pregnancies from July to November 2003,” according to the Associated Press’s John Hanna. “Neuhaus diagnosed the patients with acute anxiety, acute stress or single episodes of major depression, concluding their conditions met requirements in Kansas law for late-term abortions.”

Neuhaus reportedly approved those post-viability abortions at the Wichita clinic of  Tiller. However, the state law required independent referrals to verify that such abortions were obtained only to prevent the death of, or irreversible and substantial injury to, the mother.

All the 11 young women were in their sixth or seventh month of pregnancy when they met with Neuhaus at the Tiller facility.  Neuhaus was never trained as a psychiatric consultant, and ended up utilizing an online ‘answer tree.’ Evidence from the patient files repeatedly indicated such diagnoses were logged in and completed within 2 to 3 minutes. Thus the teens were able to secure these abortion at a cost of $6,000 or more.

Yet in spite of all this, abortion supporters allege Neuhaus is being railroaded by pro-life politicians, including Gov. Sam Brownback.  Such an assertion is ridiculous.

For starters Gov. Brownback had not even been elected in the spring of 2010, when the charges against Neuhaus were formally filed (under a Board executive director hired and confirmed by a “moderate” Kansas Senate).  In addition, since becoming governor, Brownback has appointed just three of the 15 Board members who will vote at their April meeting  whether to adopt the recommendation of Administrative Law Judge Edward Gashler to revoke Neuhaus’ license.

Persecution? Hardly. Let’s face it, abortion-provision doesn’t attract quality professionals and telling the abortion base that fact is too painful.

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