Balkinization  

Thursday, February 12, 2004

JB

Justice Department Seeks to Invade Privacy of Women Who Have Had Abortions

The New York Times has the story here.

The Justice Department seeks to subpoena medical records of women who have had abortions in order to prove that partial birth abortions are medically unnecessary and were "just the doctor's preference to perform the procedure." This is truly grotesque. Doctors do not perform D&X abortions because they have a particular fondness for gruesome procedures; they do so because they believe it is the safest procedure available for women who are in difficult circumstances. This is a pretty blatant attempt to scare doctors away from performing the procedure and invade the privacy of their patients in the process. The key quote from the Justice Department's brief:

Citing federal case law, the department said in a brief that "there is no federal common law" protecting physician-patient privilege. In light of "modern medical practice" and the growth of third-party insurers, it said, "individuals no longer possess a reasonable expectation that their histories will remain completely confidential.

All of which begs the question whether people *should* have their medical privacy protected. Is there nothing that John Ashcroft won't stoop to?



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