Full 44-Min. Video Interview of Dr. Paul McHugh and Transcript
K.S.A. 65-6703 states: “No person shall perform or induce an abortion when the fetus is viable unless such person is a physician and has a documented referral from another physician not legally or financially affiliated with the physician performing or inducing the abortion and both physicians determine that: (1) The abortion is necessary to preserve the life of the pregnant woman; or (2) a continuation of the pregnancy will cause asubstantial and irreversible impairment of a major bodily function of the pregnant woman.”
A 2000 opinion by pro-abortion Attorney General Carla Stovall stated that “major bodily function” must include mental health risks, but that such risks must be “substaintial andirreversible.”
Now, one of the nation’s most respected and accomplished psychiatrists, Dr. Paul McHugh, has examined abortion records for the Kansas Attorney General’s office that was investigating abortion abuses in Kansas. In this interview, Dr. McHugh states in his expert opinion, he saw no record that justified late-term abortions under Kansas law.
FULL 44-MIN. INTERVIEW – PART ONE
FULL 44-MIN. INTERVIEW – PART TWO
FULL 44-MIN. INTERVIEW – PART THREE
FULL 44-MIN. INTERVIEW – PART FOUR
FULL 44-MIN. INTERVIEW – PART FIVE
Full Transcript of Interview with Dr. Paul McHugh Conducted on June 11, 2007, in Overland Park, Kansas
Interview arranged by Women Influencing The Nation. Transcription provided by Cheryl Sullenger, Operation Rescue.
MEGAN MOSACK: Paul R. McHugh was educated at Harvard College and Harvard Medical School with further training at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, the Institute of Psychiatry, University of London, and the Division of Neuropsychiatry at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. After his training he was eventually and successfully professor of psychiatry at Cornell University School of Medicine, Clinical Director and Director of Residency Education at the New York Hospital, Westchester Division, Professor and Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the Oregon Hills Scien — Service — Science Center, rather. He was Henry Phipps Professor and 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. The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine named him University Distinguished Service Professor in 1998. Dr. McHugh was elected to the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences in 1992. In 2001, he was appointed by President Bush to the President’s Council on Bioethics, and in 2002 by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to the National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Young People. He has written articles in The American Scholar, The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, The Weekly Standard, The Chronicles of Higher Education, and The Baltimore Sun.
Dr. McHugh, thank you so much for being with us today. Tell us, how did you become familiar with this case against Dr. George Tiller here in Kansas?
DR. MC HUGH: Well, I became familiar with it because I was called by Attorney General Kline and asked if I would look at the records and to see whether I could confirm or reject the idea that those records demonstrated that the women involved in the abortions were in danger of suffering a substantial and irreversible impairment if the pregnancies continued, impairment of a psychiatric kind. Since I am a psychiatrist, he asked me to look at it from that point of view, and so I was sent a sample of records and looked them over and wrote that I didn’t think that those records supported the idea that these women were likely to suffer a substantial and irreversible impairment, which was required by law here in Kansas for their abortions since this — they were late-term abortions, and that’s how I became involved in these matters.
MEGAN MOSACK: What exactly were you hired to do in looking at them?
DR. MC HUGH: Yes, well I was hired, as I said, to look at the records as they were available to see whether I could concur from those records that these women were in danger suffering substantial and irreversible impairment of a psychiatric kind that could justify a late-term abortion. And so I was to look at these records from the point of view of whether they were adequate to develop a diagnosis, whether those diagnoses so developed were of a kind that represented a substantial and irreversible impairment, and that whether the abortion was a way of solving that problem, and whether in point of fact at some level this constituted adequate psychiatric justification for the procedure that was being proposed.
MEGAN MOSACK: So, Doctor, you were looking at all these records. Did you or could you ever determine the identity of the patients? Would you be able to give me names right now?
DR. MC HUGH: No, I — The names, and some of the vital details in the sense of them, were not available on those records. Those were redacted out so that the point was not to identify them as a particular person, but to identify the state of mind that they were in and the examinations that were performed and the adequacy of those studies to reach the conclusions that the doctors had reached
MEGAN MOSACK: So you saw no names and you wouldn’t be able to identify these patients. In your opinion, there is no privacy concern here.
DR. MC HUGH: No, no. There were no privacy concerns, and in the sense that identifying the people — And by the way, there wasn’t an awful lot of a private nature that was in those records, other than the state of mind and feelings that the young women were expressing.
MEGAN MOSACK: And who was with you? Was it a private review?
DR. MC HUGH: It was a perfectly private review, just me.
MEGAN MOSACK: Okay. Now, let’s talk about what’s currently happening right now. The new Attorney General, Paul Morrison, he has stated that he is actively investigating Tiller and he even has an assistant attorney general on this case full time. Has anyone from Mr. Morrison’s office, or Mr. Morrison himself tried to contact you?
DR. MC HUGH: No, he hasn’t.
MEGAN MOSACK: And you were hired by former attorney Phill Kline as the expert state witness. Is that correct?
DR. MC HUGH: Yes, I was hired to provide expert testimony as to the — as to the records and I wrote an affidavit to that effect.
MEGAN MOSACK: Did you know that after Mr. Morrison took office he was going to continue the investigation?
DR. MC HUGH: I had no idea what was going to happen after I had turned in my affidavit.
MEGAN MOSACK: Were you expecting a call from his office?
DR. MC HUGH: Well, I expected I might hear from somebody.
MEGAN MOSACK: But you never did?
DR. MC HUGH: I never did.
MEGAN MOSACK: What are some of the reasons — I want to get specific here — what are some of the reasons given by the mothers for these late term abortions. And we are speaking about abortions after the sixth month of pregnancy.
DR. MC HUGH: We’re talking, you know, 26 to 30 weeks into the pregnancy. Well, the mothers were expressing great senses of distress and worry about their future. They were tearful and preoccupied with the idea that only an abortion would help them. They said that they were sad and frightened and they spoke about fears that their future life would be changed. They expressed ideas that they were not being given adequate support, and that they felt that the abortion would help them.
MEGAN MOSACK: I know, Doctor, as you reviewed some of these records and these files you were able to take summaries, and take notes, and if at any time you’d like to refer to those notes, please feel free to do that. You talk about the fear of lifestyle changes. Can you be specific and talk about what some of those might have been?
DR. MC HUGH: Yes, well they — Remember most important, Megan, to appreciate is that these records that I was shown were very inadequate psychiatric records. Okay? They were not thorough, detailed, pages-long understandings of the biographies, backgrounds, states of mind, and particular directions that these young women were suffering from. There was no clear work of — in those records — that would be construed as capable of giving you a full picture of the mental condition of these women. They highlighted certain kinds of things, which, out of context, were hard of course to appreciate, but were sometimes of a most trivial sort, from saying that, “I won’t be able to go to concerts,” or “I won’t be able to take part in sports,” to more serious ones, such as, “I don’t want to give my child up for adoption.” But at no time could you see and understand the future of these individuals and in what way they should be seen as full people, people capable of being helped in this situation. Rather, they were highlighted for certain kinds of, well, preoccupations and concerns. Some of them would be construed as trivial and others would be construed as serious. A trivial one would not being able to go to a rock concert. A more serious one would be to say, “I am going to be worried about the life of this child later on in life. But notice, I could pick out only bits and pieces of this. This is not a — none of them represented a full psychiatric history.
MEGAN MOSACK: Let’s talk about Dr. Tiller. What were some of the reasons or the comments made by Dr. Tiller that justified these late-term abortions?
DR. MC HUGH: Well, he had mostly social reasons for thinking that the late-term abortions were suitable, that the children wouldn’t — the offspring would not thrive, that the woman would have her future redirected, that they wouldn’t get a good education after they had a child, that they would always feel guilty in some way about having this child, that they had been abused already and that this — to have the baby would be another form of abuse. Again, these ideas that he was suggesting — these were not psychiatric ideas, these were social ideas that he is proposing. And by the way, again, there was nothing to back these things up in a substantial way. And by the way, as well, there was no plans being made for these young women, whether they were going to be aborted or not, to be seen and followed up and giving counsel and support and kindness and doctoring, to help they readjust.
MEGAN MOSACK: So, just so I understand what your last point — There was no effort being made for continuing psychiatric support after the abortion provided?
DR. MC HUGH: There was no psychiatric plan for care to follow on after the abortion and of course there was no plan being proposed alternative to the abortion in relationship to these statements about what might be the social consequences of having the child. So, as I say, these — these elements, these little bits and pieces, you couldn’t employ to get a true picture of the person. An the pieces that were picked out, some of them, as I said, were quite trivial, in my opinion, although for the doctor, and maybe for the young woman, they might be considered more serious, but certainly being able to go to a sporting event and being able to go to the prom, go to a concert — There’s a life at stake here, and much more serious issues need to be brought up particularly if you want to obey the Kansas law that says some serious impairment is required.
MEGAN MOSACK: And when you talk about those specifics, those lifestyle changes that some of these women would have seen, not being able to play a sport, you also mentioned not being able to attend a music concert — Are you just pulling those out of thin air, or are you recalling those from the records.
DR. MC HUGH: No, I am recalling. Those are specifics. I don’t want to go any further into the details of it, but let me just say those were the kinds of things that are in there with some of them. Okay? And I was surprised that — that uh — first of all I thought most of them knew that the person could go to those things, whether they had — lots of people go having had a baby and go to concerts and go to sports and go to dri- and get educated, and all of that. And occasionally, you would hear someone say, well, their suicidal ideation would increase. I mean, those things were said by Dr. Tiller.
MEGAN MOSACK: Dr. Tiller said that if the woman remained pregnant, her suicide —
DR. MC HUGH: Suicidal ideation might increase.
MEGAN MOSACK: Is that true?
DR. MC HUGH: Well, the interesting thing to psychiatrists that being pregnant and being the mother of a child up until about age one actually reduces the suicide risk of women by three to eight fold. Not many people know that even though it’s substantiated in the medical literature. It’s nature’s — we probably have to accept that the idea that nature does protect us. Pregnancy is a burden for everyone, and yet something, something out of nature alters the attitude of these women, even when they’re distressed about the meaning of their life and the meaning that this life they carry has for them. So an argument can be made because certainly abortions and miscarriages lead to the restoration or the increase in suicidal risk — the suicidal risk of these women is restored to the same risk of the women of the same class, age, and background. You — it’s always difficult to make a claim that suicidal ideation will be increased when you know that abortion and miscarriage in fact increases the suicidal risk. Now, once again, I’m — the key to what I’ve been saying in Kansas is not simply that these single statements are not weighty, but that these single statements are not embedded in a psychiatric understanding of these patients and these people, that would — that would in any way approximate a stance on which the defense of an abortion could be made. These are — these cases have not been studied thoroughly, and the diagnoses that have been made, such as depression, adjustment disorder, and the like, those are not substantial and permanently impairing conditions. Those are conditions that we psychiatrists deal with all the time and –
MEGAN MOSACK: Are you confident enough to say that not just yourself as a psychiatrist, but others in your profession would agree that those types of single-episode depression, adjustment disorder, anxiety disorder, that those are not substantial or irreversible?
DR. MC HUGH: Oh, I’m quite confident that 100% of psychiatrists would say that those are not irreversible conditions since most of their practice is taking care of exactly those things and restoring people to their mental health. We, we do that all the time. And again, that’s why I’m saying that the surprising thing was that if it was believed that these were the proper diagnoses — by the way, I think these women were all in a demoralized state of mind. You — these diagnoses become almost interchangeable, at least on the evidence that’s produced here. They’re all fundamentally demoralized young women and what they needed was support, help, care, and long-term treatment for the situation that they had — that they were — in which they felt abandoned, so that they could once again feel as they should feel, that their future is rich.
MEGAN MOSACK: I’m quite shocked at something you mentioned, that there was no process put in place for them after the abortion for follow-up psychiatric, psychological care. Isn’t that a breech of medical care?
DR. MC HUGH: Well, I — as I say, I am only talking about what the records showed. I saw no evidence in the records for this kind of thought, and it relates to my concern about these records as not being adequate in what they brought to the case, or what they proposed for the case, other than the abortion. And I had to ask myself, looking at these records, is any person who comes who this clinic ever found not to be appropriate on psychological or psychiatric grounds for abortion.
MEGAN MOSACK: Well, let me ask you that. Did you ever see Dr. Tiller reject a request for a late-term abortion?
DR. MC HUGH: No, I saw no records of a rejection of this by anybody, and I’m not saying that they — that that don’t exist, I’m saying that in looking at those records and what they were employed to do, I can’t imagine that anyone wouldn’t satisfy those criteria, even though those criteria didn’t meet my views for a substantial and irreversible condition. That’s what I’m saying. I don’t know whether Dr. Tiller had rejected on psychological grounds other people. I can only tell you that from these records, anybody could have gotten an abortion if they wanted one.
MEGAN MOSACK: Could the average person have liked at these records and agreed with you, or would it have been difficult for someone off the street to understand recognize that it didn’t meet the requirements of the law?
DR. MC HUGH: Well, no. I’m not sure about that because the understanding of what single-episode depression, adjustment disorder, those are not everyday corner-store words. They are professional words, and they carry for psychiatrists a different meaning than they would carry for the ordinary person, but I think that it can be explained to the ordinary person and they can understand in what ways these are similar to experiences that everyone has. As I say, when I look at the records, as far as I can tell, all these young women were very similar in the sense that they were all demoralized, and what other diagnostic term you wanted to give it was almost interchangeable on the basis of these records. They were discouraged, fearful, worried young women who needed support, and would express a variety of ideas in that context to win what they were liking for, and that’s — that’s the way to understand these people, in my opinion. And a thorough psychiatric examination, and a thorough and adequate psychiatric plan was needed by them and was not received — here, anyway.
MEGAN MOSACK: What — if you know — what is Dr. Tiller’s training as it relates to psychiatry and psychology?
DR. MC HUGH: I don’t know the backgrounds of the — of Dr. Tiller adequately to comment about it. He’s a medical doctor. He’s had a full medical education. As I understood it, he worked in pathology for a while. I also understood that he was not a psychiatrist and — but that’s as far as I go. I’ve not met him and I’ve not talked to him about — and again, I wasn’t asked to speak about his qualifications. I was asked to speak about what these records show that would give a sense of the patient, and also in a sense, show the adequacy with which they were being approached psychiatrically. That’s why I’m here. I’m here to speak to what constitutes adequate psychiatric attention and adequate psychiatric evaluation.
MEGAN MOSACK: Let me ask you this: As you read through these files and these records, did you see evidence that a second doctor confirmed Tiller’s opinion that the women would suffer severe and irreversible damage to a major bodily function?
DR. MC HUGH: Yes, of course. I mean, the law requires in Kansas that two doctors do look at them and there was a second doctor, and there was always a letter from the second doctor that would say in her opinion as well these women suffered — could potentially suffer from irreversible and substantial of a bodily function. This is mental bodily function — a bodily function construed in mental terms if the abortion — if they didn’t receive and abortion. But again, that letter was not — did not come with the kind of pages of psychiatric study, evaluation, biographical details, an understanding of the person on which — from that record you can confirm that opinion.
MEGAN MOSACK: How would you describe that second opinion?
DR. MC HUGH: Well, at least from the record, that second opinion rested upon a description of the — it rested, let’s say, it rested upon an encounter with the young woman and a statement of her present state of mind. So it was an opinion derived in much the say way from the statements of the patients themselves about how distressed they were.
MEGAN MOSACK: Would you describe it as highly detailed and thorough?
DR. MC HUGH: No, I wouldn’t describe it as highly detailed. I would describe it as brief, symptom-only based, and — and unsubstantiated in its prognosis on the basis of a rich, detailed study of the young woman and her potentials. Okay? If you’re going to take a life on the basis of a psychiatric examination, in my opinion and I think the opinion of most psychiatrists would be, this requires a serious understanding of the full biography of the person as well as the place that they are in — at the moment. The context in which this has happened, and what are the resources, which are quite — After all, in our country the resources for psychiatric services and psychological services are rich. And one wonders, looking at this, why some consideration isn’t being made to employ them for the benefit of these patients. And so the conclusion that imposes itself upon — I can’t say that it’s a conclusion that — that necessarily — the conclusion is these young women came here for an abortion, and the effort on the part of the psychiatric assessment was to support that idea that an abortion is appropriate, rather than considering the alternatives, the risks and benefits of this to the person in her life. Nothing like a person in a trajectory with — in a country that is not prepared to help its mothers, I believe, and a country that’s so starving for adoptions that we go into deepest, darkest China to bring these dear children out. I mean, that’s what a psychiatrist draws from seeing these records. Now as I said, I never met the patients, I don’t know their names, I never met the doctors, but that’s not what I was asked to do. I was asked to talk about this — these records — as evidence for the appropriateness of abortion to prevent a substantial and irreversible impairment of the minds of these young women.
MEGAN MOSACK: And did you see any one file that justified a late-term abortion by demonstrating that she would suffer substantial and irreversible harm?
DR. MC HUGH: I saw no file that justified abortion on that basis. All the files justified the abortions on the patient’s present state of mind of being distressed and social proposals that this person’s life would be less successful, less developed, less opportune if this child were born, and those are not psychiatric reasons, those are social reasons.
MEGAN MOSACK: Dr. McHugh, when did Attorney General Phill Kline hire you?
DR. MC HUGH: He hired me in late 2006, and I was doing the review of these records in December of 2006.
MEGAN MOSACK: And based on these records that you reviewed, would you be comfortable making any sort of diagnosis?
DR. MC HUGH: On the basis of these records, I wouldn’t be satisfied with any specific diagnosis, and in point of fact, a diagnosis probably doesn’t capture the issues before you in these women. A diagnosis is a pigeonhole. These — to really understand these women, I believe that you would draw up a full history of them and formulate them as people in distress and trouble. And so what I — my diagnosis, if pinned to the wall on that, would not be a simple psychiatric diagnosis, it would be that these are demoralized people, discouraged, depressed in the sense of being discouraged and disheartened — those kinds of feelings, and I would identify them as that kind of person. Okay? Rather than subject them to a psychiatric diagnosis like major depression or acute stress disorder, because it wouldn’t carry the meaning of what was there. But these records that I had are so inadequate that I couldn’t confidently support either the diagnoses given or these ideas that are impressions that come across from the few descriptions of the women there.
MEGAN MOSACK: Do you believe anyone else practicing psychiatry would be comfortable making a diagnosis based on what you saw?
DR. MC HUGH: Well, it’s always difficult to say what another doctor would say, comfortably. I think that a psychiatrist would say — would all agree that these are inadequate records for laying out a psychiatric diagnosis and a psychiatric plan. And it’s a psychiatric plan that’s needed here. And a psychiatric plan that is being proposed be solved by an abortion. That’s — that’s what is intended in these files, and they’re inadequate.
MEGAN MOSACK: Is anxiety disorder permanent and irreversible?
DR. MC HUGH: No, anxiety disorder, of course, is not a permanent and irreversible condition. Psychiatrists treat them all the time. And in this situation, the anxiety is related to the pregnancy and could be dealt with in the way we deal with the anxiety of pregnant women all the time.
MEGAN MOSACK: What about adjustment disorder? Is that permanent and irreversible?
DR. MC HUGH: By its very name ‘adjustment disorder” it means the person is having difficulty adjusting to this situation and needs help in adjusting, so by — by the words themselves they carry the meaning that this is not permanent and irreversible.
MEGAN MOSACK: What about single episodic severe depression? Would that be classified as permanent and irreversible?
DR. MC HUGH: No. One doesn’t classify that as permanent and irreversible. In fact, it’s a treatable condition. And once again, remember these — these diagnoses are not coming out of — off the wall. They are being applied to individuals whose context we understand. These are individuals troubled because they’re pregnant, and the attachment of this diagnosis to them doesn’t inform you very much about either the situation — and it certainly doesn’t — it’s not a diagnosis that carries with it the same implications as the disease that that will be permanent and irreversible would
MEGAN MOSACK: How would you summarize Dr. Tiller’s philosophy and findings that justify these late-term abortions.
DR. MC HUGH: Well, that’s a very tough question, Megan, to try to summarize someone’s philosophy here. All I can carry away from this is that by these criteria, no person who would want an abortion — a late-term abortion would be turned away from that. And so I presume that — that the idea here is to justify that surgical procedure, and these records on a psychiatric basis do not so justify it.
MEGAN MOSACK: You mentioned earlier that Dr. Tiller used a lot of social reasoning to justify. Can you get into specifics, some of the social reasons that Dr. Tiller gave? I know you have some notes you can refer to.
DR. MC HUGH: Yes, look. When you say, “What do I mean by social?” Of course. But when you say that someone will end up an uneducated person, that is not a psychiatric diagnosis. That is a social prediction. Okay? And — and by the way, a social prediction certainly doesn’t have — as we know in our country — does not have to be fulfilled, if we offer social support. The occupational future, the person will fear family disapproval, words of that sort. Those are all social reasons. I don’t mean to say that if you do loose out in your education, that’s not harm, but it’s a social harm and those kinds of things should be treated in a social fashion. And by the way, re-supporting the individual, re-moralizing her, giving her her strengths, her self, she then as we know, can independently demand the kinds of support that — that comes, and that she would be entitled to.
MEGAN MOSACK: So as you were reading from you notes, those were gleaned from the records —
DR. MC HUGH: Those are direct quotes from the records, sample notations from Dr. Tiller. “She was forced to carry to term she would end up an uneducated person without occupational skills and have multiple other pregnancies,” and the like. Well, all of those things are social predictions, and obviously become subjects, interests, concern — but I’m saying, and we psychiatrists would say, will be avoided if we can get this person once again to feel what she’s entitled to feel, namely that she’s an independent individual with rights and proper approaches to her life. If you think, and teach her, that the only thing that can be done here is that this viable human being has to be killed in order for her to have anything in her future, that’s a lesson — that’s a social lesson that may well, in my opinion, prognostically take from her the sort of sense that she can overcome hurdles that life brings her. Now, that’s not a psychiatric opinion that I’ve offered you, either. But it — it’s a social attitude or an approach to women in our county that, in my opinion, is more meaningful than proposing that if they carry a viable child to term that their educational opportunities are lost and they end up fundamentally having multiple pregnancies, multiple sexualities — that their sexual life is lost as a meaningful way, that they will never flower and blossom. If anyone were saying that in another context about a woman, he would or she would be, you know, chased out of court.
MEGAN MOSACK: Well, sure. I follow that line of reasoning very well. How do you believe Dr. Tiller, based on the records you saw, how do you believe he treats his female patients?
DR. MC HUGH: Oh, again, I can’t say from these records how he treats female patients. I’m only saying here that the records carry with them by the statements that I drew out from you, give the impression — give the impression that a hopeless attitude is depicted going along with the hopeless feelings that the patient has and brings to the clinic. Doctors are supposed to give hope to people and support to people, and they have to believe that such hope is to be found in them. And usually, by the way, for psychiatrists anyway, I can tell you that that kind of hopeful attitude comes out of taking the full history of the person, noticing not simply what life has imposed upon her, but what she has brought to life, what her strengths are. If we approach a psychiatric problem as though there are only deficits, rather than assets for a person, we will never have an optimistic and a future-oriented therapy for people. We’ve got to see their assets as well as their vulnerabilities to bring them on, and those don’t come across in these records.
MEGAN MOSACK: Dr. McHugh, are you saying that there — it was just basically a cursory review of the current mental state of the patient, instead of going back, doing a deep rooted history of the patient.
DR. MC HUGH: Yes, that’s what I am saying. By the records, anyway, what is being looked at is the state of mind of the woman right at the time in which the issues of the stressing aspects of her present context are emphasized and her strengths or assets, the things that she brought — and by the way our the capacity to open up for her and broaden her horizons as to what could happen in the future for her is neglected. It’s as though, from the records — I can only tell you from the records — one has the idea that the purpose of this visit is to justify an abortion rather than the purpose of this visit is to have a full psychiatric understanding of this person, and see all of the alternative ways that she could approach her life. And of course, in these situations, because we’re talking about viable fetuses, and viable — we’re doing it beyond the stage — we’re talking about the loss of a life — the life of a pain-feeling, sensory-feeling, fully organized human being.
MEGAN MOSACK: I want to talk to you about that. These are viable fetuses, these are fetuses in the seventh, eighth, ninth month of gestation.
DR. MC HUGH: Yes, well, that’s right.
MEGAN MOSACK: What type of brain function are we talking about.
DR. MC HUGH: Well, their viable in the sense that these are the very kinds of little babies that are being taken care of in ICUs all around our country. So, they have the capacity to hear, to see, to feel pain. They are human beings, and we’re protecting them all the time, nourishing them, meeting them years later and seeing what they’ve contributed, so to eliminate them is a serious business. And for a psychiatrist, anyway, to encourage a woman to eliminate them, well, we don’t think psychiatrists do that. There’s no psychiatric reasons for that.
MEGAN MOSACK: And I want you to be clear about that, and explain that. Is abortion used to treat any type of psychological condition.
DR. MC HUGH: No, there’s no psychological condition for which abortion is the cure.
MEGAN MOSACK: Dr. McHugh, as we wrap up, I’d like for you to explain to us why it was important for you to step forward, to come and speak out.
DR. MC HUGH: Well, first of all, I was asked to look at these records by a state official of a distinguished state in our country, but as well, I was struck by the fact that psychiatry is being drawn in to this situation, and being asked to be the justifier of this procedure — these abortions — and the psychiatry, first of all has no place here, in my opinion, but also has not been adequately considered in the psychiatric — this is not a full psychiatric practice that we’re seeing here. Rather, psychiatric terms are being employed to justify a procedure, and you know, I have a position in America. I’m supposed to tell people what they can expect from psychiatrists. In point of fact, my interest is getting people to be able to talk back to their psychiatrist in ways that are coherent, just the way they can talk back to their internist, or their dermatologist, or anybody else. When psychiatry becomes that kind of thing then you would see how inadequate this psychiatric work is, and I’m supposed to stick up for my discipline.
MEGAN MOSACK: Would you go as far as to say that what goes on in Dr. Tiller’s office, as far as what you were able to tell from the records, does a disservice to psychiatry?
DR. MC HUGH: Well, let me put it this way. These records are not adequate records for the support of a serious decision for abortion, and that they do not represent psychiatry at its best, and psychiatry at its best should be employed when serious decisions are being made. Let’s put it that way.
MEGAN MOSACK: Since they’re not adequate, as you just said, are you surprised that they’re being used to perform or be allowed to perform late-term abortions in this state?
DR. MC HUGH: I’m — the issue of being surprised — I’ve given up being surprised, by the way. Almost anything gets used in this world. Let’s put it this way. I think that the people of Kansas ought to know more about what psychiatry is about if psychiatric diagnoses are being employed to justify this way of getting and satisfying the laws that they’ve written. The people of Kansas have written these laws. Viable fetuses should not be aborted unless there’s a substantial and irreversible condition that the pregnancy will produce. Well, when a psychiatric diagnosis is brought forth, I think that people should understand that that requires a heck of a lot more than I found in these records. That’s why I’m here, and that’s what I’m trying to report
MEGAN MOSACK: So Dr. McHugh, just to review and go back a bit. You started reviewing these records back in November of 2006, and you were hired by the former Attorney General Phill Kline. Right now we do know that Attorney General Paul Morrison says he’s actively investigating this case against George Tiller, and I want to ask you one more time, just to be clear. There has been no effort made to contact you about this investigation, is that correct?
DR. MC HUGH: No, I haven’t been contacted by anyone from Kansas since I sent in my affidavit and I’d be very happy to talk with anyone from the office to clarify anything. If they would like more information, I’m available, but I think that I’ve expressed my opinions as best I could and would like to know if it was found adequate or not.
MEGAN MOSACK: Alright. Dr. Paul McHugh, we appreciate your time. Thanks for being with us today.
DR. MC HUGH: Thank you very much, Megan.