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feminist wire | daily newsbriefs

March-22-05

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.

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Media Resources: Planned Parenthood 3/14/05; Indianapolis Star 3/15/05; Associated Press 3/15/05; Courier Press 3/15/05; Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report 3/16/05; Feminist Daily News Wire 2/13/04, 9/8/04, 3/2/05, 3/18/05


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