A national abortion rights group on Wednesday took aim at a lawyer named to the Kansas Board of Healing Arts because he has represented an anti-abortion group.
Trust Women PAC ripped into Gov. Sam Brownbacks appointment of Rick Macias to the healing arts board, which licenses and disciplines Kansas physicians. Macias, who was appointed Tuesday, has done legal work for Operation Rescue.
We are disappointed, but not surprised said Julie Burkhart, executive director of Trust Women.
This is just another example of Brownbacks obsession with restricting access to womens reproductive health in Kansas.
Brownbacks spokeswoman, Sherriene Jones-Sontag, praised the Wichita lawyer, whose term on the board runs until June 30, 2014.
Mr. Macias is a well-qualified and a very respected attorney who will continue the reforms needed at the Board of Healing Arts, she Jones said.
Macias was unavailable for comment late Wednesday.
The Board of Healing Arts has been under fire in recent years for moving slowly to deal with bad doctors. At one point, the board ranked 41st nationally in its discipline of doctors.
A 2006 audit found that the agency was slow to discipline doctors and didnt investigate many complaints.
The problem came to a head in 2007 when federal authorities accused a Wichita-area doctor of illegally distributing medications. Fifty-six of his patients died of overdoses. Victims and their families had complained to the state board for years about the doctor, but nothing was done until federal charges were filed.
Burkhart questioned whether Macias could regulate doctors when he defended abortion opponents who protested at clinics.
We are especially concerned about Mr. Macias apparent conflict of interest in regulating health care providers when he has been so involved with those charged with blocking and disrupting clinic access and violating the privacy of patients, she said.
Our hope is that Mr. Macias will use his important position on the board to work in the best interest of Kansans.
Troy Newman, president of Operation Rescue, said Macias was not an activist by any stretch. Newman described him as a level-headed, well-rounded attorney.
Newman said Macias has done work for Operation Rescue in the past. He runs an adoption and family law practice in Wichita. He also is the director of the Adoption Centre of Kansas, Inc.
Newman said Macias appointment is the result of a change in elected leadership.
Elections have consequences. Deal with it, Newman said. Now, Sam Brownback gets a chance to appoint who he wants to lead these organizations and staff these committees.