PRIVACY: Abortion Provider Sued for Leaving Medical Records in Trash
A class-action suit was filed Friday against a California abortion provider who allegedly disposed of hundreds of women's medical records in unlocked trash bins that were subsequently rifled through by anti-abortion protesters. The women were patients at Dr. Edward Allred's Family Planning Associates Medical Group, which operates clinics in 20 California communities. Abortion opponent Timothy Wilson, who runs the groups Choose Now and Privacy Protection League, said in court documents that he "rifled through clinic trash bins on more than 300 occasions, collecting 30 boxes of papers." After discovering the names of 20 doctors in the trash, he sent 2,300 letters to their neighbors, asking, "Did you know that your neighbor is an abortionist?" On May 6, he sent 300 of the clinic's patients letters saying: "It has come to our attention that portions of your medical records relating to your visit to Family Planning Associates were left outside in an area accessible to the public. We believe this shows a terrible disregard for your privacy." Family Planning Associates sued Wilson May 19, charging that he unlawfully obtained the records and harmed the business. But Jack Schuler, who represents 80 of the potentially 10,000 women in the lawsuit, said the clinic is ultimately responsible for patients' privacy. "Some of these women have family members who are opposed to abortion, and it's caused them tremendous problems," Schuler said (Kowalczyk, Orange County Register, 6/5).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.