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Kan. Physician Who Aided Tiller Faces Long Battle To Regain License

Kan. Physician Who Aided Tiller Faces Long Battle To Regain License

September 7, 2012 — A Kansas physician will likely undergo lengthy litigation to regain her medical license, which was revoked based on allegations that she conducted inadequate exams of abortion patients when providing second opinions for the late George Tiller, the AP/Topeka Capital-Journal reports (Hanna, AP/Topeka Capital-Journal, 9/6).

Ann Kristin Neuhaus conducted the exams to comply with a Kansas law that requires abortion providers to obtain an independent second opinion, concurring that patients seeking abortion care late in pregnancy would face significant and permanent harm if the pregnancy continued. Tiller -- one of a few physicians in the country who provided late abortions -- was shot to death by an antiabortion-rights activist in 2009.

The Kansas State Board of Healing Arts in June accepted the earlier findings of an administrative judge who said Neuhaus "seriously jeopardized" her patients' care and revoked her license. The case involved mental health exams conducted in 2003 on 11 patients ages 10 to 18. The judge said Neuhaus' records did not contain enough information to show she conducted thorough exams. The judge also found some patients were described as suicidal, but Neuhaus did not recommend additional treatment.

Neuhaus testified at a hearing that she did not put more details in her records to protect patients' privacy and that in some cases, she denied the request for an abortion (Women's Health Policy Report, 6/26).

Neuhaus filed a petition seeking to have the board's decision overturned in Shawnee County District Court last month. The petition calls the decision to remove her license "unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious."

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Kelly Kaufman, an attorney representing Neuhaus, said Kansas courts likely will take more than two years to settle the legal challenge, in part because any district court ruling is likely to face an appeal. "In the meantime, she's still stuck with a license that's in stalemate," Kaufman said.

Kaufman argued that the administrative judge improperly inferred that Neuhaus' inadequate record-keeping meant that she provided inadequate care.

In a statement on Thursday, Kelli Stevens, the board's general counsel, said its members reviewed the evidence supporting the judge's conclusions and "believed his decision-making was sound and appropriate" (AP/Topeka Capital-Journal, 9/6).