Justice Dept Seeks Hospitals....
February 12, 2004
By ERIC LICHTBLAU
WASHINGTON, Feb. 11 - The Justice Department is demanding that at least six hospitals in New York City, Philadelphia and elsewhere turn over hundreds of patient medical records on certain abortions performed there.
Lawyers for the department say they need the records to defend a new law that prohibits what opponents call partial-birth abortions. A group of doctors at hospitals nationwide have challenged the law, enacted last November, arguing that it bars them from performing medically needed abortions.
The department wants to examine the medical histories for what could amount to dozens of the doctors' patients in the last three years to determine, in part, whether the procedure, known medically as intact dilation and extraction, was in fact medically necessary, government lawyers said.
But hospital administrators are balking because they say the highly unusual demand would violate the privacy rights of their patients, and the standoff has resulted in clashing interpretations from federal judges in recent days about whether the Justice Department has a right to see the files.
A federal judge in Manhattan last week allowed the subpoenas to go forward and threatened to impose penalties, and perhaps even lift a temporary ban he had imposed on the government's new abortion restrictions, if the records were not turned over.
But, also last week, the chief federal judge in Chicago threw out the subpoena against the Northwestern University Medical Center because he said it was a "significant intrusion" on the patients' privacy.Here is the complete article
Why would they need records from the past 3 years? The law just recently went into effect.
Something stinks about this.
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