After posting health record information about girls and women who had abortions at a Kansas City clinic, Operation Rescue activists have succeeded in pressuring the state attorney general to use those records to investigate the clinics.
That’s right. The state of Kansas is coordinating investigation efforts into women’s health and family planning clinics based on medical records the group should not possess in the first place but is so far not seriously investigating how an organization linked to clinic bombings and the murder of abortion doctors came to possess the records to begin with.
Operation Rescue is coordinating a pretty familiar terror campaign here. On one front are accusations, based on these records, that the clinic broke laws by not reporting child sexual abuse. Attorneys for the clinics immediately responded that the allegations were a lie. While a second front is the ever-lingering threat that extremists in their own words “know too much” about these women.
As the Sacramento Bee reports activists with the group are positively crowing about the developments. Cheryl Sullenger, Operation Rescue’s senior policy adviser, said that a confidential informant provided the papers and that no laws were broken in their acquisition. “It’s no secret we seek information about abortion clinics,” Sullenger said. Sullenger wouldn’t explain how the group got the records, essentially offering up “trust us” as evidence no laws have been broken.
But If Operation Rescue does have any documents from Central Family Medicine, they were stolen, said the clinic’s attorney, Cheryl Pilate. “This is about trespass and theft,” Pilate said. “This has nothing to do with the sanctity of records or with protecting women. They are trying to frighten women away from having an abortion.”
Pilate said the clinic reported to police and the FBI on Monday about an apparent break-in at its trash bin. The bin is kept locked and papers dumped in it are shredded, she said. Pilate said the Operation Rescue allegations are part of a national strategy by anti-abortion groups to obtain and further their cause with the abuse of clinic papers.
“This was a locked Dumpster on private property,” Pilate said. “They (Operation Rescue) have in their possession stolen property.”
The Kansas Attorney General’s office has its own troubling history keeping a clean and accurate chain of custody when it comes to these kinds of records, and the Brownback administration has made it extremely clear that it views Operation Rescue as an ally. So the fact that it is relying on stolen documents to further an administrative review designed to harass abortion providers, while not shocking, does amount to the kind of failure in local law enforcement only federal oversight can remedy.
That means these girls and women have no hope their privacy and security will be taken seriously by the state of Kansas. The Department of Justice needs to step in and make sure these victims see the justice they deserve. Sign our petition and demand the Department of Justice investigate into just how Operation Rescue came in possession of these documents and what they intend to do with the information.
Photo from netwon_grafitti via flickr.