Tennessee Republicans are pushing forward a bill in the state House of Representatives that would require the state to publish the names of each doctor who performs an abortion and detailed statistics about the woman having the procedure. It’s a dangerous step toward an eradication of any privacy or doctor/patient confidentiality and one that can threaten the lives of both women and medical providers.
The Life Defense Act of 2012 is sponsored by Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesborough) and mandates that the Tennessee Department of Health make detailed demographic information about every woman who has an abortion available to the public. The information that would be published includes her age, race, county, marital status, education level, number of children, the location of the procedure and how many times she has been pregnant. Each report would also identify the doctor who performed the procedure.
So far sponsors are not commenting on the bill and have not addressed how this procedure would square with patient privacy protections afforded under the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act, (HIPPA) the federal law that offers significant protections of individually identifiable health information.
Maybe that’s because they know the bill, as proposed, is in clear violation of HIPPA or maybe that’s because such a violation never occurred to them.
The House Health and Human Resources Committee is expected to vote on the bill Wednesday and is expected to pass the Republican controlled House. Since Republicans also control the Senate absent some intervening circumstances the bill is expected to pass the Senate as well.
The purpose of this bill is clear as is the Republican agenda: make access to abortion as dangerous as possible and drive it underground. This bill does nothing but make women and providers targets for violence and offers no public health policy purpose at all. It’s a clear violation of federal health privacy protections and sends the dangerous message that it is open season on women and abortion providers.
Photo from mandiberg via flickr.