culture, politics, commentary, criticism

Wednesday, February 11, 2004
The subpoena paradox. Within the Bush administration it's seen as reasonable
not to subpoena the White House over 9-11-01 and yet somehow it's okay to subpoena the medical records of 40 patients who received so-called partial-birth abortions at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago:
The ruling is the first in a series of subpoenas by the U.S. Justice Department seeking the medical records of patients from seven physicians and at least five hospitals, Crain's sister publication Modern Healthcare has learned. Besides Northwestern, Mr. Ashcroft is seeking patient records from University of Michigan Hospitals and Health Centers in Ann Arbor; Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia, owned by Tenet Healthcare Corp.; Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center and Weill Cornell Medical Center of New York Presbyterian Hospital both of which are part of the New York-Presbyterian Healthcare System; and an unidentified San Francisco-area hospital.


Northwestern received the subpoena in December, a month after obstetrician/gynecologist Cassing Hammond, a member of Northwestern’s staff and medical school faculty, was served with subpoenas seeking his patient records. Hammond is one of seven doctors and three groups who has challenged the constitutionality of the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003. The American Civil Liberties Union is representing the National Abortion Federation; Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive Rights, which are all filing challenges to the law. A hearing for all of the challenges has been scheduled for March 29 in U.S. District Court in New York.

Dr. Hammond refused comment last week. His case is pending.
You think stuff like this doesn't hit home? That it's some vague privacy-related matter that happens to other people?

It hits home. The doctors of Northwestern’s staff and medical school faculty are my healthcare providers. Disgust is not a strong enough word to express how I feel about Ashcroft's fingers riffling through the same filing cabinets that contain my medical records.

Link via Tapped.

UPDATE: Nick Confessore at Tapped has reader responses to the controversy.

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