Politics & Government

Testimony ends in abortion-referrals case

TOPEKA — Testimony ended Friday in a disciplinary case against a physician who provided second opinions on the mental health of patients seeking late-term abortions from Wichita abortion provider George Tiller.

Attorneys for physician Ann Kristin Neuhaus and the State Board of Healing Arts have until Jan. 17 to submit final summaries of the evidence and legal arguments to the hearing's presiding officer.

He will recommend whether the board should sanction Neuhaus over the mental health evaluations of 11 patients, aged 10 to 18, who had abortions in 2003 at Tiller's clinic. Tiller was shot to death in 2009.

The second opinions were required under state law for patients seeking late-term abortions under the law's mental health exemption. State legislators removed the exemption earlier this year.

A complaint filed in 2010 by the board's top litigation attorney accuses Neuhaus of negligence. Neuhaus diagnosed the patients with acute anxiety, acute stress or single episodes of major depression, concluding their conditions met the state law's requirements for late-term abortions.

The case centers on how Neuhaus reached her conclusions and whether she adequately documented the reasons behind each diagnosis.

Neuhaus has disputed allegations that her documentation was substandard, saying she kept details about patients out of her files over concerns that abortion opponents would get access to them and disseminate the information.