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Kan. doctor loses license over abortion referrals

Associated Press Modified: June 22, 2012 at 5:46 pm •  Published: June 22, 2012
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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A Kansas doctor remained unapologetic Friday after state regulators revoked her medical license over allegations that she performed inadequate mental health exams on young patients she then referred to Dr. George Tiller for late-term abortions.

Dr. Ann Kristin Neuhaus and other abortion-rights supporters described the action against her by the State Board of Healing Arts as part of ongoing efforts to limit access to abortion that also shadowed Tiller before his murder in 2009 by a man professing strong anti-abortion views. Neuhaus immediately said she would ask the state's courts to overturn the board's decision.

In stripping Neuhaus of her license, the board accepted the findings of an administrative judge, who concluded in February that Neuhaus "seriously jeopardized" the care of her patients. The case against her involved mental health exams done in 2003 on 11 patients, ages 10 to 18. The judge said Neuhaus' records didn't contain enough information to show that she did thorough exams.

Neuhaus provided second opinions Tiller needed under Kansas law to perform some late-term abortions at his Wichita clinic. Until his death, Tiller was among a few U.S. physicians known to terminate pregnancies in their final weeks, and Neuhaus provided second opinions for him from 1999 to 2006.

Because of Tiller's clinic, Kansas has long been at the center of the nation's debate over abortion. Since a sympathetic Gov. Sam Brownback took office in January 2011, the state has tightened restrictions on abortion, written special health and safety rules for abortion providers and limited private health insurance coverage for elective abortions.

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

Abortion opponents dismissed such comments, saying that after years of their scrutiny of Neuhaus, the board finally moved to protect patients. Anti-abortion groups long argued that Neuhaus helped Tiller flout state restrictions on late-term abortions, and Mary Kay Culp, executive director of Kansans for Life, called their working relationship "a marriage made in Hell."

"It has taken a long, long time to get this piece of justice," Culp said.

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. She had performed abortions in Wichita and Lawrence but stopped in 2002.

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