Indiana: Planned Parenthood Fights AG's Attempt to Obtain Records
Planned Parenthood of Indiana sued the state last week, filing both temporary and permanent injunctions against Attorney General Steve Carter, who has demanded the medical records of 73 low-income Planned Parenthood patients under the age of 14. Carter has already obtained the records of eight such minors using the state’s Medicaid Fraud Control Unit in order to investigate whether the state’s Planned Parenthood clinics are reporting instances of child rape or molestation as they are required to do, according to the Associated Press. Indiana’s law defines sex with a child under the age of 14 as child molestation, regardless of the partner’s age. The Courier Press reports that none of the records sought involve abortions.
Planned Parenthood of Indiana contends that the state investigators have not provided an explanation for the “sweeping scope” of the request for medical records. "This is a clear-cut case of abuse of power. Instead of protecting medical privacy rights, the attorney general is selling them out to his fishing expedition," Planned Parenthood of Indiana CEO Betty Cockrum said. "We take our patients' privacy very seriously."
Because federal health privacy laws do not apply to investigations of Medicaid fraud or abuse, Planned Parenthood risks losing Medicaid funding if they do not turn over the records of their patients, the Indianapolis Star reports.
Similarly, Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline has been on a mission since last fall to obtain the unedited medical records of 90 women and girls who sought late-term abortions in 2003, claiming that he needs these records in order to prosecute child rape. However, Kline has also subpoenaed the records of women over the age of 16, which is the age of legal consent in the state. Attorneys for the two clinics targeted by Kline have told the Kansas Supreme Court that “the logical and natural progression of this action could well be a knock on the door of a woman who exercised her constitutional right to privacy, by special agents of the attorney general who seek to inquire into her personal, medical, sexual or legal history.”
In 2004, then US Attorney General John Ashcroft sought abortion records from hospitals and Planned Parenthood clinics in order to prosecute those who had violated the abortion procedures ban passed by Congress in 2003. Several federal judges ruled against Ashcroft’s action, and the abortion procedures ban has since been ruled unconstitutional three times.
8/31/2015 Chicago Activists Continue Hunger Strike to Save Predominately Black Public High School - Chicago residents have entered the second week of their hunger strike protesting the closure of Dyett High School, in the predominately African-American Bronzeville neighborhood located on the South Side of Chicago.
Parents and community members are calling on the Chicago Board of Education to keep Dyett - the only open-enrollment, neighborhood school in its area - open and accept a community plan to revitalize the school with a focus on science and green technology. . . .
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .