Bush Admin. Pursues Partial-Birth Abortion Records From U. Michigan

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 4, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Bush Admin. Pursues Partial-Birth Abortion Records From U. Michigan

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
March 4, 2004

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The Bush administration continues to defend its requests for records of women who have had partial-birth abortions in order to show that such abortions are not medically necessary to protect a woman’s health. The Justice Department has subpoenaed patient records from seven abortion practitioners, six Planned Parenthood abortion businesses, and at least five hospitals.

Because of the breadth of the request, and the number of facilities refusing to comply, the situation has devolved into numerous legal cases where the Bush administration is reacting to numerous motions to quash the subpoenas.

In Michigan, the Bush administration requested records from the University of Michigan medical center, which has refused to turn over the information.

UM OBGYN Department Chairman Dr. Timothy Johnson joined one of three lawsuits seeking to overturn the pro-life law. The lawsuits argue the ban is unconstitutional because it does not include a health exception.

The Michigan medical center says turning over the information would violate patient privacy and laws guaranteed to protect it.

But the Justice Department filed a brief on Wednesday saying it is willing to accept the records with personal information marked out and said Johnson should be required to defend his allegations that a health exception is necessary by turning over records proving that is the case.

"Plaintiff’s contention that the banned procedure is medically necessary is thus central to their case, and the medical records revealing the instances in which plaintiffs have performed the procedure … are critically important to assess their claim," the Justice Department said in its brief.

In fact, the Justice Department argues a protective order has already been issued to redact the information for privacy concerns.

"To be clear, the government has no interest in information that would identify the patients who received abortions from Dr. Johnson," the brief says.

Johnson has testified that he doesn’t perform partial-birth abortions, but uses other abortion procedures instead during the same timeframe. The Justice Department argues this shows a contradiction in the arguments made by abortion advocates, namely that partial-birth must not be medically necessary if Johnson doesn’t use the abortion procedure in the same cases that other abortion practitioners do.

The court case on the lawsuits against the ban is scheduled for a hearing on March 29 in the federal New York Southern District Court.