Saturday, March 06, 2004

Justice Dept seeks 2700 abortion records 

via Ambidextrous: the Justice Department is seeking abortion records on 2700 women from Planned Parenthood offices in several states. Justice insists that federal law "does not recognize a physician-patient privilege," and that patients "no longer possess a reasonable expectation that their histories will remain completely confidential." No shit. What I want to know is why the federal government needs information on people's medical records. Ambidextrous links to a NYtimes article, but it never explains why the DoJ wants this information. Well, I did a bit of research, and it looks like it's political:
Under fire from abortion-rights groups, Attorney General John Ashcroft insisted Thursday that doctor-patient privacy is not threatened by a government attempt to subpoena medical records in a lawsuit over the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.

At stake are records documenting certain late-term abortions performed by doctors who have joined in a legal challenge of the disputed ban. President Bush signed the act into law last year.

Critics of the subpoenas accuse the Justice Department of trying to intimidate doctors and patients involved in the contested type of abortion.
So the records in question were subpoenaed in a lawsuit over the "partial birth" abortion ban. That's interesting, because according to the New York Times:
The demand for files is not limited to records of [partial birth] abortion... The government also seeks these materials for the last three years:
  • Records of any second-trimester abortion in which the patient suffered a medical complication, regardless of the technique.

  • Records of any case in which a doctor caused a fetus's death by injecting chemical agents in the womb in the second or third trimester.

  • Documents related to any medical malpractice claims arising from certain abortions.

  • The names of all doctors who have performed any type of abortion.

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