Clinic Does Not Have To Provide All Minors' Abortion Records

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A three-judge panel of the 1st Ohio District Court of Appeals on Friday unanimously ruled that a Planned Parenthood Southwest Ohio Regionclinic does not have to provide all records of abortions given to womenunder 18 to lawyers of a family who is suing the clinic for violatingthe state's parental notification law, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports (Coolidge, Cincinnati Enquirer,8/24). Ohio law requires unmarried minors to obtain the consent of atleast one parent before undergoing abortion and requires women seekingabortion to meet with a physician at least 24 hours before theprocedure to hear a description of the process, its risks andalternatives. The law allows minors to seek a judicial bypass (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 11/15/06).

Afamily identified as John and Joan Roe in March 2005 filed a lawsuitalleging that a 21-year-old man who impregnated their daughter took herto a PPSOR clinic in Cincinnati and said he was her stepbrother. Thelawsuit alleges that the clinic performed an abortion without notifyingthe girl's parents. According to the Enquirer, physician Roslyn Kade, PPSOR and six unknown people are named as defendants in the case (Cincinnati Enquirer, 8/24).

Thelawsuit seeks records of abortions provided to other minors going back10 years in an effort to reveal that the clinic had a pattern ofviolating the law, the AP/Cincinnati Post reports (Sewell, AP/Cincinnati Post, 8/24). Hamilton County Common Please Judge Patrick Dinkelacker in June 2006 agreed to the request (Cincinnati Enquirer, 8/24).

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Ruling, Reaction

The three-judge panel ruled that the other minors' records were notnecessary for the lawsuit, which it said was about whether PPSORviolated its legal duties to the girl's parents by performing theabortion without parental consent. Judge Mark Painter in the decisionwrote, "The potential invasion of privacy rights trumps the probativevalue of the records to this case." He added that even if the patients'names were blacked out, "it is arguable that disclosure would result ina privacy invasion."

In the decision, the panel wrote that itfound no reason to let the plaintiffs act as "private attorneysgeneral," adding that the state could conduct such investigations. "Thefacts and evidence nowhere indicate that Planned Parenthoodsystematically and intentionally evaded its statutory duties," thepanel wrote.

Brian Hurley, attorney for the family, said theywill appeal the ruling to the state Supreme Court, adding that therecords would refute PPSOR's claim that it always follows notificationand reporting laws. "Our clients have alleged that they were harmedbecause Planned Parenthood has a pattern and practice of violating itsduties under Ohio law to report sexual abuse of minors and notifyparents of minors of their daughters' intent to have an abortion, notas a result of a single, isolated incident," Hurley said.

BeckiBrenner, president and CEO for PPSOR, said the earlier order wasintrusive to highly personal and private information. She added, "This[ruling] is a victory for patients and their right to medical privacy" (AP/Cincinnati Post, 8/24).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser DailyWomen's Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for emaildelivery at kaisernetwork.org/email. The Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, afree service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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