No Healing: Ann Kristin Neuhaus Faces Her Past Every Day as Kansas Chases the Ghost of George Tiller
This article originally appeared in The Pitch, a Kansas City alternative newspaper. ThisCantBeHappening! normally does not reprint other publications' material, but this story about Kristi Neuhaus, a heroic doctor who has fought for women's right to abortion in one of the most cynically benighted regions of the country for decades, together with her journalist/private investigator husband Mike Cadell, a lifelong prairie radical who puts the truth in front of Kansans in his newspaper, the Fightin' Cock Flyer, and on his radio program Radio Free Kansas, has to be told to as wide an audience as possible. We're proud to run it here:
There isn't an address on the paint-chipped farmhouse in Nortonville, about 30 miles north of Lawrence. Across from it on this country road, the mailbox hangs limp. A muddy driveway leads past a beat-up pickup truck to a garage. An approaching car sends cats scattering.
It's the only place that Ann Kristin Neuhaus and Mike Caddell have ever owned. She describes the place as something out of Cormac McCarthy's post-apocalyptic novel The Road. Caddell calls it "a money pit."
"Do we look rich?" Neuhaus asks. "We're very broke all of the time. Our house is falling down."
She turns on the water each time she wants to flush the toilet, but this is home for Neuhaus and Caddell. They've been married 26 years, and they have a 14-year-old son, Tristan. Six chickens, five cats, four dogs, three horses, two roosters and a goat roam the family's 10 acres.
Neuhaus and Caddell bought the place 15 years ago, when she was making a little money. Now they're struggling to survive. About a year ago, the house nearly faced foreclosure. During an interview with The Pitch in September, Neuhaus was on her way to apply for a payday loan. Then in October, the utilities were almost shut off.
"It's just literally month by month that we're holding onto the place," says Caddell, host of the Radio Free Kansas online radio show. "We've been living on $30,000 a year for about two and a half years now." That money came from a research stipend that has since expired. Neuhaus is now working as a research instructor at the University of Kansas Medical Center's Department of Family Medicine.
Out here, they say, the neighbors are protective. One, fearing for Neuhaus' safety, offered to loan her an AK-47. That's life on the front line of Kansas' abortion war.
Neuhaus is one of the last links to Wichita abortion provider George Tiller, who was murdered in May 2009 while attending a Sunday church service. From 1999 to 2006, Neuhaus provided second-opinion mental-health exams to determine whether the late-term abortions that some women sought at Tiller's clinic were medically necessary. That step was required by Kansas law.