Do KS Abortion Rules Betray Patient Confidentiality? Hardly.
While Kansas’ tough new abortion clinic rules await a full trial in federal court, abortion supporters continue to make wild accusations about them. The latest canard is that the health regulations violate patient privacy by requiring clinics to show medical records to state health inspectors:
One regulation says “all records shall be available at the facility for inspection” by the secretary of health and environment or his staff. Abortion-rights advocates said giving such access allows health department officials to review highly personal information, and they don’t trust Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s administration because he is a strong opponent of abortion.
“It’s totally unjustified and an invasion of patient privacy,” said Bonnie Scott Jones, an attorney for the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights, which is representing two doctors in the federal lawsuit.
Totally injustifiable? Former KS Attorney General Phill Kline recently testified that he found 164 cases of statutory rape unreported by KS abortion clinics in just one year. By any reasonable standard, those are 164 good justifications for the new regulations.
Here’s what a KDHE official had to say:
The new licensing law declares information in medical records must be kept confidential, and another statute makes it a misdemeanor for health department employees to disclose such data publicly. Department spokeswoman Miranda Myrick noted that federal law also applies.
She added, “When surveyors are inspecting facilities, the medical records do not leave the facilities.”
Abortion opponents say access to medical records is necessary if the department is to provide proper oversight.
South Carolina‘s rules for abortion providers say health department inspectors “shall have access to all properties and areas, objects, records and reports.” In Texas, a health department surveyor is “entitled to access all books, records or other documents.” Arizona‘s rules give abortion providers two hours to produce a record if it’s at the clinic.
“That struck me as a pretty standard provision, that regulatory agencies would have access to records,” said Kansas House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lance Kinzer, an Olathe Republican who opposes abortion.
Pretty standard indeed.