Investigative

Is private medical information really safe at abortion clinics?

medical-health-care

Think your private medical information is safe with Planned Parenthood or your local abortion facility? Think again.

In this two-part series, Live Action News examines the safety of medical information at abortion facilities. Our investigative findings should cause patients who use these facilities to seriously question whether the private information they are handing over to abortion providers will remain secure.

Image Credit: Screen from KTRK report: Woman finds abandoned abortion records in north Houston warehouse )

Screenshot from KTRK report: Woman finds abandoned abortion records in north Houston warehouse

Privacy is very important to most Americans and the abortion lobby thrives on fear tactics that claim a woman’s privacy is being denied if she cannot obtain an abortion. But what if the abortion or medical service she obtains is not kept private by the provider? Will the woman’s “private secret” now be in the hands of strangers who could expose her abortion or steal her identity?

Medical records left behind by a Michigan abortion clinic (Image credit: Lynn Mills)

Medical records left behind by a Michigan abortion clinic (Image credit: Lynn Mills)

It is not far-fetched to wonder if an industry which has been caught on video allegedly selling aborted baby parts and covering for child sexual abusers would also be careless about the private medical information they obtain from their patients. Here’s a review of examples where the abortion industry has been caught mishandling patient data:

  • Operation Rescue released information documenting widespread abortion abuses at a dozen Texas abortion clinics. They claimed that massive violations of the Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), occurred. Hundreds of patient names, addresses, and other sensitive information that had been illegally dumped or discarded by abortion facilities was discovered and recovered.
  • Abortion patient medical records were discovered inside a vacant warehouse, the site of a former Michigan abortion facility near downtown Flint.
  • Medical records left behind by a Michigan abortion clinic (Image credit: Lynn Mills)

    Medical records left behind by a Michigan abortion clinic (Image credit: Lynn Mills)

  • Formal complaints were filed against abortionist LeRoy Carhart and his late-term abortion facility in Germantown, Maryland, after an investigation by pro-life activists uncovered the illegal dumping of biohazardous waste, private patient medical information (including copies of patient drivers licenses), and IV drugs.
  • Pro-life activist Robert Ruff wrote a book analyzing several boxes of Planned Parenthood records that were thrown in a dumpster outside a Planned Parenthood facility. He and his fellow pro-lifers found them while searching for the bodies of aborted babies in the garbage.
  • Police and environmental officials investigated the improper disposal of medical waste and patient records at a suburban Detroit abortion clinic after an anti-abortion group found human tissue and the documents in a dumpster behind the facility.
  • Disgraced Kansas City abortionist Krishna Rajanna had thrown, into a school recycling bin, abortion patient records with extensive personal-identifying information while those files were still legally required to be retained and protected. More than 1,000 private abortion records sat in plain view, tossed on top of magazines and newspapers in a possibly serious violation of federal privacy laws.
  • Robbinsdale Clinic in Minnesota suffered a scandal when fetal remains were found in the dumpster, along with patient billing records identifying patients by name and procedure performed.
  • Decades of documentation reveal a pattern of deeply entrenched illegal and unethical practices throughout Michigan’s abortion industry. Illegal disposal at Michigan abortion facilities included 40-50 patient records, used syringes, and bloody surgical material dumped by an abortion center in Michigan. 30-40 patient records were dumped by another and patient logs with over 500 patient names, medical records, bloody surgical material were dumped by yet another Michigan abortion facility.
  • A class-action suit was filed against a California abortion provider who allegedly disposed of hundreds of women’s medical records in unlocked trash bins.
  • Patient record thrown away by Oklahoma abortion clinic

    Patient record thrown away by Oklahoma abortion clinic

  • Operation Rescue filed complaints against Outpatient Services for Women in Oklahoma City and their abortionist Nareshkumar Patel, for record-keeping violations and improper disposal of confidential information, among other violations. The complaints were based on documents and medical waste that had been discarded in a publicly-accessible trash receptacle near Patel’s Outpatient Services for Women abortion facility in Oklahoma City. The material was received by Operation Rescue from an anonymous source on March 18, 2013.
  • “As we rummaged through the bags we could see the medical records of the women whose children lay torn in pieces. The cold-hearted abortionist had discarded the bodies of these dead babies in the trash along with their mother’s medical records with no care or concern for either.” ~ From Clinic Quotes
  • The bodies of 17 aborted babies were discovered in a business dumpster outside the WomansChoice abortion facility near Lansing, Michigan. Investigations revealed that the owners were Richard and Maggie Remund, owners of another facility where the bodies of 47 aborted babies were discovered in a dumpster in 1989. Additionally, the business dumpster contained medical records, including patient logs with full names and insurance information, bloody surgical material, and used urine specimen cups labeled with the names of the patients.
  • Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette filed a lawsuit to permanently dissolve Health Care Clinic, of Delta Township, and the affiliated Women’s Choice Clinic, of Saginaw, Michigan, and to enjoin the abortion facility’s owner, Richard Remund, from ever organizing any other company for a similar purpose. The action comes as the result of an Attorney General investigation into allegations of improper medical records disposal at the facilities. Schuette asked the State Bureau of Health Professions to review evidence suggesting the improper disposal of medical records at the facilities. Disposing of medical records improperly may subject the associated licensed medical professionals to disciplinary measures.
  • An inspection was performed on February 27, 2013, at Silver Spring Family Planning abortion facility in Maryland. Inspectors cited a number of deficiencies, including the following: There were no policies and procedures regarding patient rights, as required. There were also no policies and procedures to protect patient privacy.
  • Metropolitan Family Planning in Berwyn Heights, Maryland, which was initially inspected on February 22, 2013, showed five major categories of violations that made it unqualified for licensure. The deficiencies included a failure to ensure confidentiality of medical records. The records room was left unlocked and unsupervised.
Medical records from abortion clinic found among remodeling trash

Medical records from abortion clinic found among remodeling trash

  • Baltimore’s Hillcrest [abortion] Clinic was temporarily closed when an activist happened to notice that medical records were illegally dumped among the remodeling refuse. There were names, addresses, and even a copy of a woman’s photo identification card – all blowing down the sidewalk for anyone to find. When the activist looked inside the dumpster, she found “buckets” of medical records strewn amongst the broken pieces of office furniture, ceiling tiles, and miscellaneous debris deposited by contractors working on the remodel.
  • In February of 2013, a report issued following an inspection of the Potomac Family Planning Center in Rockville, Maryland, noted that the facility maintained no procedures for patient safety that included fire and mechanical hazards. In addition, state officials also noted that patient records were not secured to protect patient privacy.
  • Medical records of hundreds – and potentially thousands – of women that attended an unspecified Houston abortion facility were discovered in a warehouse in the city. The records were discovered by the owner of the warehouse, Esmeralda Cedillo, when she was walking her dog. The warehouse had not been used for 7 years until the dog got inside and dragged out a number of files and began tearing them up. The boxes of files had been left in the warehouse by a now estranged relative who worked at an abortion clinic. The information in the files included sensitive medical information, personal details and Social Security numbers of women who had abortions at the clinic between 1992 and 2012.

The law firm Jackson Lewis, which has 800 attorneys in major locations throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico, published the results of a court case by an abortion patient who sued an abortion provider after a clinic staff member called her home number and discussed her private medical information with her mother. In that case, Jackson Lewis reported that:

[T]he New York Supreme Court Appellate Division ruled in a 3-2 decision that punitive damages can be awarded for a grossly negligent breach of confidential medical information even if the breach was not intentional or malicious. In this case, the jury awarded the plaintiff $365,000 ($65,000 in compensatory emotional distress damages and $300,000 in punitive damages.

Only recently, the largest provider of abortions — Planned Parenthood, which receives half a billion in tax dollars annually — discovered a potential breach of patient information after moving out of one of their facilities in Iowa. Live Action News contributor Danny David reported that a Planned Parenthood of the Heartland spokesperson admitted that medical records from 2008 to 2014 may have been compromised after Planned Parenthood “inadvertently” left them behind after moving. The records were discovered by the building’s new owners and it reportedly took Planned Parenthood officials nearly 10 days to pick them up. So much for “Care. No Matter What.”

Planned Parenthood’s response was swift: “PPHeartland is dedicated to securing and maintaining our patients’ trust; this incident is in no way representative of PPHeartland’s stringent privacy standards,” they wrote on their website.

Author’s Note: In our next investigative report, Live Action News will take a closer look at cases involving privacy breaches at Planned Parenthood.

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