Third Hospital Files Motion to Quash Partial-Birth Abortion Records Subpoenas
by Steven Ertelt
February 23, 2004
Detroit, MI (LifeNews.com) — The University of Michigan on Monday filed a motion on behalf of its medical center to stop the Bush administration from obtaining records of partial-birth abortions. The information would be used to defend the partial-birth abortion ban against three separate lawsuits filed by abortion advocates. That makes the hospital the third to resist the Justice Department’s efforts.
The Department of Justice has subpoenaed patient records from seven abortion practitioners and at least five hospitals.
The Bush administration is not seeking to identify patients, but is looking to verify what pro-life groups and some abortion advocates have admitted — that most partial-birth abortions occur on healthy women and healthy babies.
The hospitals, and abortion advocates, say the patient information should be kept confidential.
In the Michigan case, a University of Michigan medical center staff member is also a party in the pro-abortion suit.
UM OBGYN Department Chairman Dr. Timothy Johnson joined the abortion practitioners in opposing the law, which argues the ban is unconstitutional because it does not include a health exception.
However, the Bush administration is seeking the records to bolster its case that Johnson has no standing to participate in the lawsuit because niehter he nor the University of Michigan medical center perform partial-birth abortions.
Earlier, a Chicago judge quashed the subpoena preventing Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago from having to divulge the abortion information.
U.S. Chief District Judge Charles Kocoras wrote a 16-page opinion citing the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and Illinois’ medical privacy law as reasons why the information couldn’t be divulged.
San Francisco General Hospital is refusing to turn over its records.
In a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice last week, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera refused to comply with a subpoena for the records, calling it "a gross violation of our patients’ privacy rights."
Prior to filing the motion to quash, the University of Michigan hospital for weeks refused to turn over the information requested.
The National Abortion Federation, Planned Parenthood, and several abortion practitioners, filed lawsuits the same day President Bush signed the partial-birth abortion ban into law.
U.S. District Judge Richard Conway Casey of New York was one of the judges temporarily blocking the law, but he has scheduled a hearing on March 29 to review the ban.
He agrees with the Justice Department’s request for the documents saying, "I will not let the doctors hide behind the shield of the hospital."
The Bush administration is also seeking patient records from Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia, owned by Tenet Healthcare Corp.; Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center and Weill Cornell Medical Center of New York Presbyterian Hospital — both of which are part of the New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System; and an unidentified San Francisco-area hospital.