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The circumstances of some of the 11 patients' cases were reported in a September 17 Associated Press story. In each case, Neuhaus had written a letter to Tiller saying the patient would face "substantial and irreversible impairment of a major physical or mental function."
A 15-year-old Missouri girl feared that she'd be kicked out of school if her pregnancy was discovered. Neuhaus diagnosed her with a single episode of depression. Tiller's staff noted on a separate, suicide-risk-specific form that the girl had attempted to harm herself with an extension cord.
Neuhaus diagnosed an 18-year-old woman with severe acute stress disorder. Tiller's staff wrote that the woman wouldn't consider adoption because she didn't want "someone looking for me the rest of my life."
"I did the best I could," Neuhaus says. "Dr. Tiller did the best he could. It says 'substantial and irreversible.' Irreversible, there's no question about what that means. It's not ambiguous. But substantial? What's that mean? You're presented with a patient with a need, and your duty as a physician is to help. I tried to apply the law as I understood it. It had to be 'a substantial and irreversible impairment of her mental function,' and becoming a mom at 15 can become a substantial problem. Not for every 15-year-old, no. But especially when you add in the other circumstances."
One of the patients was a 10-year-old California girl who was a victim of rape and incest. Neuhaus took issue with Gold's claim that an abortion wasn't medically necessary for the girl.
"To even claim that isn't medically necessary qualifies as gross incompetence," Neuhaus tells The Pitch. "Someone's 10 years old, and they were raped by their uncle and they understand that they've got a baby growing in their stomach and they don't want that. You're going to send this girl for a brain scan and some blood work and put her in a hospital?"
The hearing ends, and the anti-abortion claque disperses. Newman takes a parting shot at Neuhaus. "She's a putz," he says as he leaves the building. "She's incompetent. She's a bumbling idiot. She's Mrs. Jack the Ripper." When the board takes Neuhaus' medical license, he says, it'll be a repudiation of Tiller, too.
The Board of Healing Arts could make a ruling as early as February. If Neuhaus has any allies on the 15-member board, they likely don't include Rick Macias, whom Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback appointed in July. Macias, an adoption lawyer, has also done legal work for Operation Rescue, Kansans for Life and other anti-abortion groups. Macias' brother, Archie, serves as the treasurer for the Kansans for Life Political Action Committee, and Macias has supported anti-abortion political candidates through the PAC.
Rick Macias didn't return calls from The Pitch.
The old coal furnace in Neuhaus' basement was converted to run on diesel fuel, but Neuhaus and Caddell burn wood and coal in it. Diesel is too expensive. And when there's a fire going, Neuhaus burns paper, too: old medical records.
Neuhaus performed an abortion for the first time in 1986. She estimates that she has performed 10,000 abortions.
She ran a clinic in Lawrence from 1997 to 2002. When she closed her clinic, she took its records home with her. Kansas law dictates that a health-care provider keep a patient's records for 10 years. "At the end of the 10 years," Neuhaus says, "I get rid of them."
Neuhaus and Caddell treat each purge as a celebration, and they do it month after month. Neuhaus calls the ritual "cathartic," not an act of destruction but one of protection. She explains: "Everything was there. Their whole history — their name, their phone number, their address, their life circumstance — was all in those charts."
Caddell, who worked security at abortion clinics throughout Kansas, calls the burning his last security job for Neuhaus. "I don't look at 'em. I just throw 'em in the fire. And Phill Kline can't lay his slimy, panty-sniffing hands on it."
"It was, like, the greatest thing ever," Neuhaus says, recalling the first batch of records that she incinerated and the patients she was protecting. "It was like closing the door for them. It was like exorcising that ghost from their lives. It was the one link that could come back to haunt them."