By Cheryl Sullenger
Wichita, KS — Women’s Health Care Services in Wichita, Kansas, was considered the largest late-term abortion facility outside Communist China at the time of its closure in 2009. Women literally came from all over the world for abortions that were illegal or unavailable in their home state or country.
Its owner, George Tiller, was respected among abortion supporters as the nation’s pre-eminent specialist in abortions throughout all nine months of pregnancy. In fact, Tiller developed the Induction Abortion procedure — a modification of the now-banned Partial Birth Abortion procedure — that is used today by nearly all abortionists that openly conduct “terminations” in the third trimester of pregnancy.
But Kansas wasn’t without gestational limits on abortion. The laws at that time barred abortions at 22 weeks or later unless a second unaffiliated physician agreed that the abortion was necessary to save the life of the mother or if the continued pregnancy would cause “substantial and irreversible impairment to a major bodily function of a woman.”
There was no record that any woman had ever received an abortion in Kansas to save a mother’s life. And there was no provision for abortions after 22 weeks for “fetal anomalies.”
After the 22-week limit on abortions was enacted, the Kansas Supreme Court translated “major bodily function” to include mental heath issues.
The “substantial and irreversible impairment” clause was exploited to it’s fullest by Tiller’s abortion business.
“Mental health became the loophole that Tiller used to conduct abortions throughout all nine months of pregnancy in a state that actually prohibited them,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue, who relocated from California to Kansas in 2002 to expose Tiller’s full-term abortion business.
But Tiller needed a second physician to sign off on each post-22-week abortion. In 1999, then Executive Director of the Kansas Board of Healing Arts, Larry Buening, referred Tiller to an out of work abortionist who had just been subject to disciplinary action that forced her to close her own abortion facility in Lawrence.
Thus, Tiller came to rely on disgraced abortionist Ann Kristin Neuhaus alone to sign off on all of his late term abortions, knowing that at that time that the Board of Healing Arts would never question him.
Neuhaus traveled the 2 ½ hours from her home in northeast Kansas to Tiller’s Wichita abortion clinic each week. There, she would meet with women seeking the later abortions, come to a mental health diagnosis, and provide the necessary agreements that the abortions were medically necessary to prevent “substantial and irreversible impairment” to the women.
However, it later came out in court records and testimony in a disciplinary case against Neuhaus all her diagnoses were related only to mental health issues. The true reasons for the very dangerous third trimester abortions and exactly how Neuhaus arrived her diagnoses finally came out.
Her case before the Kansas Board of Healing Arts centered on the records of eleven minors aged 10-18 who were given third trimester abortions at Tiller’s Women’s Health Care Services in 2003. All of the abortions were relatively routine and reflected common cases within his abortion business.
All eleven abortions were done on healthy, viable babies.
As the complainant in that case, I attended her hearings and reported on them at the time. The case was a fully documented look into the reasons for late-term abortions at a clinic that was once considered one of the “best” in the nation for those kinds of procedures.
Neuhaus depended on a computer program called PsychManager Lite, a training tool for psychiatry students. She would briefly interview the women at the Women’s Health Care Services, then input answers to questions into the program, which then calculated a diagnosis.
Sometimes Neuhaus conducted the interviews by telephone, and in at least one case, there was no record that she ever interviewed the patient at all.
During those interviews, any concerns expressed by the young women – even the lost frivolous – were seized upon as reasons for late-term abortions.
For example, one 15-year old girl expressed disappointment that her third trimester pregnancy took the fun out of playing basketball and ruined her enjoyment of the game. That earned a diagnosis of “Major Depressive Disorder, single episode” in Neuhaus’ PsychManager Lite program, and an abortion on her healthy viable baby.
Another 15-year old girl wanted to participate in a rodeo as a barrel rider, but could not because she was 26 weeks pregnant. She was also diagnosed with “Major Depressive Disorder, single episode” and given a late-term abortion.
Experts in psychology who reviewed the minor’s medical records denied that a single episode of depression was either posed either a substantial or irreversible impairment to the young mothers.
Other girls suffered such things as not being able to sleep well at night, (what woman in her third trimester of pregnancy can?), having problems concentrating, being shocked to find herself pregnant, or fearful that parents might find out about the pregnancy.
Some expressed suicidal thoughts, but were never referred for appropriate mental health care. In fact, they were referred for third-trimester abortions.
Chart NeuhausPatients2 by on Scribd
“There’s no psychological condition for which abortion is the cure,” stated one psychiatrist who reviewed the records, Dr. Paul McHugh, Director of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Center at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and Psychiatrist-In-Chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital from 1975 to 2001.
According to testimony, Neuhaus was actually a family practitioner, not an obstetrician/gynecologist. She also had no specific training in the field of psychology.
She held the opinion that all pregnancies were life threatening and that being unexpectedly pregnant somehow — instantly and without exception — women were endowed with mental health conditions that justified third-trimester abortion. In other words, Neuhaus’ then-radical personal philosophy toward pregnancy ensured that any woman was legally and medically justified in aborting her baby up until birth for any reason whatsoever.
It is clear from the record that George Tiller understood the negligent nature of the diagnoses reached by Neuhaus along with the lack of documentation to support them, but ignored the situation because aborting babies for any reason at any stage of development meant more to him than complying with the law or providing real care for the girls that were brought to him.
And there was a financial motive. Tiller charged between $5,000 to as much as $20,000 for third-trimester abortions.
Thankfully, Neuhaus’ medical license was revoked by the Kansas Board of Healing Arts in 2012.
But the Tiller/Neuhaus philosophy that allowed abortions on health babies for any reason throughout all nine months of pregnancy is not only still alive today, but is being expanded by the radical supporters of unrestricted abortion.
Last week, Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam lit off a firestorm of controversy when he explained how a proposed bill allowing late-term abortions in his state would work if passed.
“So, in this particular example if a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen, the infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother,” Northam said.
What happened in Kansas should serve as a cautionary tale of where bills like the one promoted by Gov. Northam are bound to take us.
“It is safe to say that out of all the late-term abortions done at Tiller’s Women’s Health Care Services from 1999 to 2009 were done for no other reason than illegitimate mental health diagnoses concocted by Tiller and Neuhaus and other staff to evade actual compliance with the law,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue. “No woman’s life was ever in danger – except from the actual abortion procedure itself. This should be a warning that abortion gestational limit laws that provide exceptions for the ‘health’ of the mother give carte blanche permission to abort healthy babies throughout all nine months of pregnancy, just it did in Kansas.”
Transcripts from the Neuhaus disciplinary hearing available at AbortionDocs.org.