By Kathy Ostrowski, legislative director, Kansans for Life
On Friday, Shawnee County Judge Franklin Theis heard arguments from a lawyer for former abortionist Ann Kristen Neuhaus why the July 2012 decision by the Kansas state Board of Healing Arts revoking her medical license should be overturned. The judge said his ruling will not be ready for some time.
“The board last year concluded that Neuhaus jeopardized the care of 11 patients, aged 10 to 18, with inadequate mental health exams in 2003,” wrote the Associated Press’s John Hanna.
In 2003 Kansas law allowed an abortion of a viable baby (defined at or after the 22nd weeks gestation) only if the woman faces “substantial and irreversible” harm to “a major bodily function” or death. In 2003 that also included mental health.
For these post-viability abortions the law required an independent second medical opinion. Legislators thought that the second physician would bring accountability so that lone abortionists would not be inventing exceptions to the ban. Neuhaus provided those second opinions for the late abortionist, George Tiller, from 1999 to 2006.
Administrative law judge Ed Gashler concluded in February 2011 that “Neuhaus’ records didn’t contain the information necessary to show that she did thorough exams, and the patients’ care was “seriously jeopardized,’” according to Hanna. It was his decision that the Board affirmed.
The primary thrust of Neuhaus’ defense was that her inadequate record keeping was not reason enough to take away her medical license.
However, all Kansas physicians must obey this duty in statute:
“keep written medical records which accurately describe the services rendered to the patient, including patient histories, pertinent findings, examination results and test results.”
The pathetic condition of Neuhaus’ files in these eleven cases were shown when, under direct testimony in earlier proceedings, Neuhaus herself couldn’t recollect some of these teens, using all her notes and records. Her attorney Friday, Kori Trussell even admitted her records “were not as they should be” but then insisted that it doesn’t mean she did not properly evaluate the mental health of the teens.
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Kelli Stevens, the board’s general counsel, argued that it is not whether these teens were even eligible candidates under the then-existing abortion law, but that Neuhaus’ diagnoses were “unsupported.” Her files were even inconsistent and cannot be reconciled with those of Tiller as to dates and patient profiles, said Stevens.
“This case is not about abortion. It is in the context of abortion,” Stevens added. “What’s relevant to this case is the mental health evaluations.”
The appeal is going forward even though Neuhaus claims she is penniless and cannot afford to pay legal costs.