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Victoria Silverwolf
By now, most of you know that the United States Justice Department has attempted to obtain medical records dealing with late-term abortions. This appears to be in response to a lawsuit challenging the federal law regarding "partial-birth" abortions. They claim that they will use this information to determine if these abortions were medically necessary.

Here's the article:

Attorney General Defends Abortion Subpoenas

To be debated:

Is this justified? Or is it an unlawful violation of medical privacy laws?

Let me get my bias out of the way. I am no fan of Attorney General John Ashcroft. However, I am also a moderate, I think, on the issue of abortion, and I can understand strong government regulations concerning late term abortions.

I believe that this is an unnecessary violation of privacy. For one thing, how can anyone say, with absolutely certainty, that a particular partial-birth abortion was medically necessary? Some would say that it is never necessary, even to save the life of the mother. Others would say that the psychological stress of pregnancy is enough to justify it. Many, like myself, would have an opinion somewhere in the middle.

Even if there were a way to absolutely determine the necessity of these abortions, I don't think that this is justified. The small amount of good it might do in helping the federal government with its case is far outweighed, I believe, by the very special nature of medical privacy.
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Mrs. Pigpen
First, let me say (and I’ve been quite vocal in the past) I absolutely do not support the PBA ban because I believe that 1. such decisions belong to the state to begin with, 2. It is too restrictive and might result in permanent health damage to the mother, from a doctor who would definitely err on the side of caution rather than performing the procedure and potentially face a witch hunt.

That being said, I believe the summoning of medical records is justified, and they are within their rights…with the exception that there is no Constitutional grounds for the federal government to be involved in a medical decision in the first place. There is clearly no way to enforce this ban otherwise, and even Roe v Wade agrees with them. Remember, Roe was a privacy decision regarding medical records and doctor/ patient confidentiality as well. In that instance, the court concluded that as the fetus gained complexity, the state had compelling interest rights which usurped the privacy rights of the expectant mother. This is why late term abortion (except in the case of health risk or potential death) had already been banned in almost all states even before the PBA ban passed.

Excerpts from Roe transcript:
QUOTE
On the basis of elements such as these, appellant and some amici argue that the woman's right is absolute and that she is entitled to terminate her pregnancy at whatever time, in whatever way, and for whatever reason she alone chooses. With this we do not agree. Appellant's arguments that Texas either has no valid interest at all in regulating the abortion decision, or no interest strong enough to support any limitation upon the woman's sole determination, are unpersuasive. The [410 U.S. 113, 154]  Court's decisions recognizing a right of privacy also acknowledge that some state regulation in areas protected by that right is appropriate. As noted above, a State may properly assert important interests in safeguarding health, in maintaining medical standards, and in protecting potential life.At some point in pregnancy, these respective interests become sufficiently compelling to sustain regulation of the factors that govern the abortion decision. The privacy right involved, therefore, cannot be said to be absolute.
(Later)
We, therefore, conclude that the right of personal privacy includes the abortion decision, but that this right is not unqualified and must be considered against important state interests in regulation.
(and again later)
The pregnant woman cannot be isolated in her privacy. She carries an embryo and, later, a fetus, if one accepts the medical definitions of the developing young in the human uterus. See Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary 478-479, 547 (24th ed. 1965). The situation therefore is inherently different from marital intimacy, or bedroom possession of obscene material, or marriage, or procreation, or education, with which Eisenstadt and Griswold, Stanley, Loving, Skinner, and Pierce and Meyer were respectively concerned. As we have intimated above, it is reasonable and appropriate for a State to decide that at some point in time another interest, that of health of the mother or that of potential human life, becomes significantly involved. The woman's privacy is no longer sole and any right of privacy she possesses must be measured accordingly.
Beladonna
I believe the records should be turned over with personal information removed.

The government wants the records of some women who've had abortions performed by several physicians named as plaintiffs in the legal challenge to the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act.

They've agree to have some of the information removed from the records to protect the patient's privacy. The government wants the records to test the assertions of the physicians who are arguing (by citing unnamed cases) that some of the abortions outlawed are medically necessary.

The position of the government is that partial birth abortions are not medically necessary to protect the health of women. These physicians have said they have a practice that shows it is a medical necessity. So the government believes the doctors should have to prove that by providing information on those cases.

The information above is located at this link:

U.S., Hospitals Clash over Abortion Records
archer1958
Ok can someone tell me exactly what kind of medical situation would call for allowing the mother to go thru labor until the infant is crowned and for all practical purposes already birthed, then poke a hole in the kids head and siphon its brain out, then go ahead and deliver the baby? Mothers blood pressure? Dont think so.
Excessive bleeding? No help there either. Face it the job is already done at that point and killing the infant in no way helps the mother's medical condition. It only gets rid of her responsibility to raise the little bugger.
All PBA records should be turned over to authorities for it will take a very long time for them to find even one case where this type of abortion is medically nessacary. Like when hell freezes over. PBA is nothing short of murder and a particularly brutal murder at that. sour.gif A serial killer who sucked his victims brains out with a vacumm cleaner while the victim is helpless and alive would be the topic of discussion for the forseeable future. The public would be horrified, sickened, apalled! But let doctors claim medical necessity and we will politely turn our heads plug our ears and politely discuss IF records should be turned over with debates of medical privacy. The whole discussion is ridiculous. Of course they should be turned over, NOW, and let the prosecutions begin. wacko.gif
Lesly
To the original question: no.

Anonymity does not amount to privacy, nor is it a good substitute. Here's a recent article by Michael C. Dorf, a FindLaw columnist. I happen to agree with him. :)

Despite similar bans being struck down by judges, the Congress said it had new proof to present to the courts and defend the PBAA. Where is this proof? What is it? Why isn't it being used in oral arguments now, and why does the DoJ seek to procure information that would defend the government's interests after the ban is signed into law?

IMO conservative/moderate congresswo/men would've done better to pursue medical proof, difficult as it is, prior to drafting the law and deflect some of the skepticism that the courts approach this ban with. I realize getting prepared in a scenario like this one could take months, maybe even years considering the checkpoints we've set up to protect our privacy. But if support for the ban can't withstand the test of time perhaps this law is more about partisanship and "gut feelings" and, as such, deserves to be struck down.
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