Planned Parenthood Blocks Release of Papers on Telemed Abortion Practitioner
by Steven Ertelt
August 30, 2010
Des Moines, IA (LifeNews.com) — The Iowa-based Planned Parenthood affiliate that has the nation’s first abortion practitioner overseeing the new telemed abortion concept has filed a lawsuit to block a pro-life group’s request for papers on the abortion practitioner’s medical license.
The pro-life group Operation Rescue is also concerned that the Iowa Board of Medicine tipped off Planned Parenthood officials to its request for the documents.
The latest developments come after the IBM announced it would create a committee that would possibly study telemed abortions.
Operation Rescue requested the medical license application for Planned Parenthood abortion practitioner Susan Haskell, an osteopath who is involved in the controversial telemed abortion process where women are denied an in-person visit with a doctor before getting the dangerous RU 486 abortion drug that has killed and injured women.
Instead, they speak with Haskell via a videoconference system and she presses a remote-controlled button that opens a box containing the abortion drug and the woman is given the drugs by an abortion center staffer, who may not be a licensed medical professional.
OR filed an open records request for public documents related to Haskell, but was contacted by the Boston-based Citizen’s Information Center, a group that conducts research on the medical industry through public records.
It sent the pro-life group a copy of a lawsuit against the CIC by Planned Parenthood of the Heartland filed on August 9 in Polk County, Iowa, asking the court to enjoin the release of public records to the CIC.
No court hearing date has been set and no injunction has been issued.
The CIC also sent the pro-life group a series of emails that it says clearly show its public records request was forwarded to Planned Parenthood of the Heartland by an Iowa Board of Medicine staff member.
Operation Rescue has released a copy of the suit filed by Planned Parenthood against the CIC as well as a series of e-mail communications provided to the CIC by Amy Van Maanen, Director of Licensure & Administration at the Iowa Board of Medicine.
One August 9 email has Mike Falkstrom, the attorney for Planned Parenthood, emailing Kent Nebel, Director of Legal Affairs for the Iowa Medical Board.
"We’re filing to enjoin the release of records today. I apologize for the delay, there were scheduling issues with taking affidavits and I was unable to get them until last week. I appreciate your patience," Falkstrom writes.
Operation Rescue president Troy Newman responded to the email in a statement to LifeNews.com.
"That e-mail implies a working relationship and prior communication between Mr. Nebel and the Planned Parenthood attorney concerning the open records request," he said. "Why would the IBM work with Planned Parenthood to obstruct a citizen from accessing public records? What is the IBM helping Planned Parenthood to hide?"
Newman said his group confirmed with the IBM that medical license applications are in fact public records.
"We have obtained medical license applications from a number of states on our own and the usual procedure is for the medical boards to redact any personal information, such as home addresses and phone numbers. We have never seen a case where access to a medical license application was denied," said Newman.
Newman said he spoke with Nebel, of the Iowa medical board, on Friday, and Nebel told him he was required by law to inform abortion practitioner Haskell that an open records request had been made for her license application in order to give her the opportunity to obtain an injunction. He cited Iowa Code Section 22.8.
Nebel told OR that this code requires the IBM to give notice to the physicians when public records requests are made, however Newman says the ‘notice’ requirement in the Iowa statute is clearly a requirement to notify the records requester that the custodian of records has filed for injunctive relief.
"It is a misreading of the statute to say that the subject of the records must be notified," said Newman.
Newman said those subject to such an open records request can avoid any "harm" by having personal information redacted as it is in other states. Under Iowa law, "inconvenience or embarrassment" are not legitimate reasons to deny public records requests or to get an injunction, he said.
"If Haskell doesn’t want her applications inspected by the public, which has a legal right to do so, maybe she shouldn’t be working in the medical field where she knows certain information will be considered open record," said Newman.
Newman is also upset with the Iowa Board of Medicine.
"We believe that Mr. Nebel acted improperly by forwarding the CIC open record request to Planned Parenthood and denying the CIC the records that were legally requested. This incident diminishes our confidence that the Board is capable of acting properly on complaints before them involving Planned Parenthood’s dangerous telemed abortion pill distribution scheme," he said.
Newman said Operation Rescue plans to release additional documents at a later date that it believes show a protective and apparently improper relationship between the Iowa Attorney General’s office and Planned Parenthood of the Heartland.
"There is evidence that the Iowa Attorney General may be involved in collusion and even corruption to protect Planned Parenthood of the Heartland from accountability to the laws of the State of Iowa," said Newman. "We plan to release that additional documentation soon and allow the public to decide."
Related web sites:
Operation Rescue – https://www.operationrescue.org
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