Judge Will Hear Michigan Partial-Birth Abortion Records Case Friday
by Steven Ertelt
March 10, 2004
Detroit, MI (LifeNews.com) — A federal judge will hold a hearing on Friday to determine whether or not the University of Michigan medical center should be required to turn over records of patients who have had partial-birth abortions to the federal government. The Bush administration wants them to prove that such abortions are never medically necessary to protect the health of a pregnant woman.
The Justice Department has subpoenaed patient records from seven abortion practitioners, six Planned Parenthood facilities and at least five hospitals.
The University of Michigan is one of the hospitals that received the request and it refused to comply saying releasing the information — even with confidential information redacted — is a violation of patient privacy.
"The attorney general’s subpoena should be quashed," the university medical center said in its brief in the case. "It has undeniable potential to intimidate patients who have undergone or may undergo these procedures and the physicians who have performed them."
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.
But the Justice Department filed a brief earlier this month 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.
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.
U.S. District Judge Avern Cohn will preside over the hearing on Friday.
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.