Justice Department Drops Request for Partial-Birth Abortion Records

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 27, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Justice Department Drops Request for Partial-Birth Abortion Records

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
April 27, 2004

New York, NY (LifeNews.com) — The Bush administration has dropped its request for hospital records of women who have had partial-birth abortions after a federal appeals court overturned a district court judge’s decision requiring a New York hospital to turn over the information.

Last week, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, despite saying it didn’t have enough information for a ruling, decided there was "sufficient merit" to Presbyterian Hospital’s arguments that turning over the records violates patient privacy.

The Justice Department said it dropped the request because it wants U.S. District Court Judge Richard Casey to issue a speedy decision regarding the constitutionality of the partial-birth abortion ban.

Casey had suspended the trial while waiting on the records battle to conclude.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sheila Gowan told Judge Casey that the Justice Department was voluntarily withdrawing the subpoena for the records.

"We believe the records are relevant," Gowan told Casey at a hastily convened conference, according to a Newsday report, "but … the government would like resolution of the important issue before your honor as quickly as possible."

The Bush administration was hoping to use the redacted records to show that the abortion procedure is used predominantly on healthy women and babies.

Casey said there was no violation of patient privacy in turning over the abortion records because personal information would be redacted. Casey fined the hospital $500, but Presbyterian appealed the decision.

Judge Casey is one of three federal judges presiding over trials of lawsuits abortion advocates have filed challenging the constitutionality of the abortion ban.

They say it lacks a health exception to protect women, citing a 2000 Supreme Court decision overturning a Nebraska ban on the gruesome procedure. But pro-life advocates, and the Bush administration, say such abortions are never needed to protect the health of a woman.

In addition to New York, cases are being tried in San Francisco and Nebraska.

The San Francisco trial has concluded and federal judge Phyllis Hamilton says her decision will cover only Planned Parenthood and a San Francisco hospital — rather than issuing a nationwide decision.