The attorney for a doctor who worked with abortion provider George Tiller says she’s considering whether to again take legal action against the Kansas Board of Healing Arts.
Earlier this month, the board revoked her license for a third time.
The licensing action against Lawrence physician Ann Neuhaus stretches back to 2011 and has cost more than $90,000. She has twice challenged the Topeka-based board’s rulings in Shawnee County District Court.
Judge Franklin Theis has previously overturned portions of the board’s Neuhaus orders and sent them back for further review. Neuhaus’ attorney, Bob Eye, said he and Neuhaus are still evaluating whether to challenge the latest license revocation order, which was issued July 7.
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“We’re going through it and if we’re not satisfied that it’s consistent with what Judge Theis required, then we’ll determine whether we want to take this up on another petition for review,” Eye said. “We know the way to the courthouse.”
Tiller, from Wichita, was one of a small number of physicians nationwide who performed late-term abortions until an anti-abortion activist fatally shot him in 2009.
Neuhaus is a former abortion provider who also provided second opinions — required by Kansas law at the time — before some of Tiller’s abortions.
The board’s July 7 order includes a statement pushing back on allegations that its actions against Neuhaus have been influenced by the anti-abortion movement.
“The decisions rendered in this case have not been based upon any personal objections against abortion providers or based upon religious, political or philosophical grounds,” the statement reads. “Instead, the board is careful to make decisions based on relevant evidence and valid considerations.”
The board members are now all appointees of Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback, who opposes abortion, but four of the 15 are re-appointees who were originally appointed by Democratic governors and when the Neuhaus hearings started some board members weren’t Brownback appointees.
The board initially revoked Neuhaus’ license in July 2012, with an order that stated the doctor had failed to provide the proper standard of care to her patients and also had a history of inadequate medical record-keeping.
Neuhaus challenged the decision in court. Theis delivered a ruling in 2014 that overturned the standard of care violations but upheld the record-keeping violations. He then sent it back to the board to determine the appropriate discipline.
The board issued another order in 2015 revoking Neuhaus’ license based on the record-keeping violations. Neuhaus again took it to court and Theis again sent the board’s order back for further review, based on technical questions about how the case fit within the board’s disciplinary grid.
The board responded with its latest order, again revoking Neuhaus’ license.
After the first order revoking her license, the board ordered Neuhaus to pay more than $92,000 in administrative costs. The latest order reduces the costs billed to Neuhaus to about $31,000 to account for the overturned parts of the previous order.
The board, which also hired outside legal counsel to help with the court case, will have to absorb the rest of the costs. It has an annual budget of about $5 million that is funded by licensing fees on doctors, chiropractors and other medical professionals.
Board staff members said they could not provide a total of costs to date.
Eye said the resources the board has expended pursuing Neuhaus’ license have been disproportionate to the offenses the board alleged she committed.
“I think when we look back on it we will question whether this is something that should have been handled the way it was,” Eye said.