Pro-Life Congresswoman Defends Partial-Birth Abortion Records Requests

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 20, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pro-Life Congresswoman Defends Partial-Birth Abortion Records Requests

by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 20, 2004

Washington, DC ( — In an editorial in the Friday issue of the USA Today newspaper, pro-life Congresswoman Melissa Hart, a Pennsylvania Republican, defends the Bush administration’s efforts to defend the federal partial-birth abortion ban.

The Justice Department has come under fire from abortion advocates because it is requesting patient information from several hospitals for women who had partial-birth abortions.

Though the Bush administration wants only to verify that virtually all partial-birth abortions occur on healthy mothers and healthy babies and that it is happy to accept information with personal information omitted, abortion advocates say the requests are a violation of the women’s privacy.

Hart says the Bush administration’s desire to show that partial-birth abortions are never medically necessary, something that a few pro-abortion leaders have admitted, is appropriate.

"After eight years of testimony from respected medical professionals, a bipartisan majority in Congress found that partial-birth abortion is a gruesome and inhumane procedure that never is medically necessary," Hart writes.

Hart says those abortion practitioners who filed suits against the law saying it should include a health exception ought to be prepared to defend their assertions by providing patient information backing up their claims.

Hart says the Justice Department is doing everything necessary to obtain the needed information about the abortion situations without compromising patient confidentiality.

"[T]he Justice Department is protecting privacy rights while requesting only the information needed to test medical necessity," Hart says. "Hospitals and doctors were told to delete any data that would identify patients by name or other specific information."

U.S. District Judge Richard Conway Casey of New York, one of the judges temporarily blocking the law, agrees with Hart and the Bush administration’s position.

"I will not let the doctors hide behind the shield of the hospital," said Casey in conference with parties involved in the lawsuit on February 5. "I will take all necessary guarantees to comply with the law and protect — and that is very important — to protect the privacy of the patients, but the information relevant to this case will be produced."

When lawyers for the abortion practitioners and hospitals argued that the documents would take too long to prepare, Judge Casey was not sympathetic.

"Too bad. They are plaintiffs. They will cooperate and get it done," Casey said. "They didn’t have to be plaintiffs. They chose to be and now they are going to get it done."

"The government never will know who had partial-birth abortions," Hart explains. "Only the records of those who chose to sue or testify have been sought, and government confidentiality agreements limit access to these files to those working on the lawsuits and prohibit their use for any other purpose."

A March 29 hearing has been scheduled for hearings on the lawsuit to begin.

Related web sites:
Rep. Melissa Hart’s editorial –