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Tue Aug 25, 2015, 07:30 PM

Activists Pursue Private Abortion Details Using Public Records Laws

Activists Pursue Private Abortion Details Using Public Records Laws


The legal skirmish, and others like it nationwide, reveal a quiet evolution in the nation’s abortion battle. Increasingly, abortion opponents are pursuing personal and medical information on women undergoing abortions and the doctors who perform them. They often file complaints with authorities based on what they learn.

Abortion opponents insist their tactics are generally not aimed at identifying women who have abortions but to uncover incidents involving patients who may have been harmed by poor care or underage girls who may have been sexually abused. They say they are trying to prevent situations such as the one involving Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted in 2013 of murdering three babies after botched abortions and of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a woman.

“This is about saving the lives of women,” said Cheryl Sullenger, senior policy adviser for the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, which is based in Wichita, Kansas. “A lot of people don’t understand that. It’s a systemic problem within the abortion industry today for abortion providers to cut corners on patient care.”

But those who support abortion rights say the ultimate aim of these activists is to reduce abortions by intimidating women and their doctors — using the loss of privacy as a weapon. They say their opponents are amassing a wealth of details that could be used to identify patients — turning women, and their doctors, into pariahs or even targets. In a New Mexico case, a woman’s initials and where she lived became public as part of an investigation triggered by a complaint from activists.

“I don’t think there’s any margin for error here,” said Laura Einstein, chief legal counsel of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands, which challenged Bloedow’s request. “These women came to a private health center to have a private health procedure, and that’s just not anybody’s business.”

In recent years, abortion opponents have become experts at accessing public records such as recordings of 911 calls, autopsy reports and documents from state health departments and medical boards, then publishing the information on their websites.

Some activists have dug through clinics’ trash to find privacy violations by abortion providers — such as patient records tossed in dumpsters — and used them to file complaints with regulators.

The fight has landed in courts nationwide as the two sides tussle over which information about abortions should be public and which should remain confidential under privacy laws.

In St. Louis, for example, an Operation Rescue staff member is suing the city’s fire department for 911 call logs and recordings from a Planned Parenthood clinic. The city says releasing the requested information would violate a federal patient privacy law.

In Louisiana, a critic of abortion sued the state last year to get data on abortions performed on minors, their ages and the ages of the listed biological fathers, as well as any complications that occurred. The state said the records were exempt from disclosure, and a judge agreed.

In Bloedow’s case, a Washington court sided with the clinics and prohibited the release of the records he sought. In May, a state appeals court upheld that injunction.

“The public has no legitimate interest in the health care or pregnancy history of any individual woman or where any particular abortion was performed,” the appeals court ruled.

Read more sickening details here: http://www.propublica.org/article/activists-pursue-private-abortion-details-using-public-records-laws

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Reply Activists Pursue Private Abortion Details Using Public Records Laws (Original post)
Novara Aug 2015 OP
Gormy Cuss Aug 2015 #1
abbeyco Aug 2015 #2
shenmue Aug 2015 #3

Response to Novara (Original post)

Tue Aug 25, 2015, 07:33 PM

1. These "activists" need to be slapped by HIPAA.


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Response to Gormy Cuss (Reply #1)

Tue Aug 25, 2015, 08:22 PM

2. Absolutely they do

FOIA requests do not superscede anything related to HIPAA. Guess they're a bunch of fools grasping at whatever straw they can find.
I hope someone with some juice can take it to them based on possible/potential HIPAA violations.

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Response to Novara (Original post)

Tue Aug 25, 2015, 09:27 PM

3. Stalking and harassment are illegal

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