Wednesday, April 30, 2003

The Supreme Court cleared the way Monday for health authorities in South Carolina to collect names, addresses and other information about women seeking abortions, a power doctors say violates a fundamental duty to protect patient privacy.

The high court rejected a challenge to the state's plan to catalog medical records from clinics and abortion doctors. The court's action, taken without comment, ends a lengthy legal challenge that had kept the law on hold.

South Carolina is the only state whose law allows regulators to see, copy and store abortion patients' medical records without stiff requirements that the information be kept confidential, lawyers representing the clinic and outside medical organizations said....

The Greenville clinic argued there was no guarantee the abortion information would remain confidential once it was in the state's hands and there was no penalty to the state or its employees for public disclosure.

The clinic also contended the regulation would allow release of patient records, apparently including names and addresses, when a clinic or its staff is under investigation by state licensing authorities.

Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association and former health secretary in Maryland, said states can have legitimate reasons for data collection. But he said South Carolina's practice is worrisome. "Once you photocopy a record, you never know where it's going," he said....


I always thought the right's agenda led in directions like this, but right-wingers always told me I was being silly -- that conservatism was all about "freedom."

Now, I think conservatives should be honest and embrace this stuff. Pickup trucks in the South should have bumper stickers that say "REGISTER UTERUSES -- NOT GUNS." Web sites and blogs run by Republican small-government advocates should have banners that say, "I Love My Country, but I Fear My Government -- Except When It's Compiling Information About Sluts!" And maybe the companies doing reconstruction business in Iraq right now can help states skip the paperwork altogether -- maybe they can devise some sort of Womb EZPass system, a tracking device that will make it possible to keep tabs on filthy baby-killing liberals around the clock.

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