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A defiant country doctor fights for her license and a disappearing style of medicine

A New Hampshire doctor fighting to regain her license has become a symbol of a kind of physician autonomy that is almost extinct.

NEW LONDON, N.H. — The voice sounded like a child crying. It seemed to follow Dr. Anna Konopka around, echoing through the rooms of her house, audible everywhere. She thought it might be coming from the neighbors’ — but no, it was clearly inside her own walls. “Mrs. Ghost,” she called it.

Of course, she didn’t tell anyone. They would think she was unstable. She was a primary care doctor, treating both children and adults. It wouldn’t do for people to hear that she was bothered by ghosts. But finally, one night around midnight, as she was getting ready for bed — there it was, in her room, a few feet away, sobbing. “I said, ‘All right, what do you want from me? I will … pray for you for three days. Let me know if it is enough,’” Konopka recalled. “And she stopped crying. She never followed me again.”

Konopka takes that same in-your-face approach to everything. As a high schooler in 1940s Poland, when all her classmates dug out their rattiest, most proletarian clothes for the Communist Party meeting, she wore her fur coat. More recently, when she heard that doctors at the local hospital had lodged an official complaint about her, she drove over to find out their motives herself. And in early November, after she voluntarily gave up her license so that the New Hampshire Board of Medicine wouldn’t suspend it, she went to

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