U.S. Department of Justice Withdraws Requests for Medical Records From Los Angeles, San Diego Planned Parenthood Affiliates
Following a San Francisco judge's ruling, the U.S. Justice Department is withdrawing its request for the medical records of women who have undergone abortions at clinics associated with Planned Parenthood affiliates in Los Angeles, San Diego and four other areas, DOJ officials announced Friday, the New York Times reports (Lichtblau, New York Times, 3/10). U.S. District Judge Phyllis Hamilton on Friday cited patient privacy rights in her denial of a DOJ subpoena seeking medical records of women who have undergone abortions at San Francisco General Hospital and Planned Parenthood Golden Gate. Although the ruling applied only to medical records from those facilities, Hamilton said that she likely would not allow evidence from subpoenas issued to Planned Parenthood Affiliates in Los Angeles, San Diego, Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C., to be admitted as part of DOJ's defense in a trial of a case brought by Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The PPFA lawsuit challenges a law banning so called "partial-birth" abortions that President Bush signed into law in November. Federal judges in California, Nebraska and New York have issued restraining orders that bar enforcement of the law, and all three judges have scheduled trials, to begin March 29, on whether the law violates standards set by the U.S. Supreme Court because it does not include an exception to protect a woman's health (California Healthline, 3/8). In its letter sent Monday to the PPFA affiliates, DOJ said that it would not "move at this time" to seek to compel the affiliates to produce the records or seek testimony in a deposition about information in the records. However, DOJ said that it might "renew our requests if necessary" (New York Times, 3/10).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.