A prominent pro-life organization charges that the city of St. Louis might be deliberately concealing violations by the only abortion business in Missouri, a branch of Planned Parenthood.
The accusation followed the city’s decision to conceal records of a 911 incident report, a record that previously had been routinely made available to Operation Rescue.
“There is something very wrong at the Planned Parenthood in St. Louis, and people have a right to know that for their own protection,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman. “Denying access to these traditionally public records literally puts women’s lives at risk.”
Newman said that “with the medical board looking the other way, 911 records may be the only way to uncover the facts, bring abortion abusers to justice, and stop the carnage at this particularly dangerous abortion mill.”
“As a matter of routine, an Operation Rescue staff member, Deborah Myers, made an open records request for 911 records related to the August 21st incident,” the organization reported.
But Patricia L. Wendling, an assistant city attorney, wrote on Sept. 20: “Any records responsive to your request are closed records … because the city of St. Louis Fire Department Emergency Medical Services is a city-designated health care component covered by the HIPAA privacy rule.
“I note that the date of treatment is an identifier under [the law] and any records responsive to your request for a particular treatment date could not be de-identified,” she wrote.
But OR previously has obtained those very records from the city, and they even were related to previous medical emergencies at Planned Parenthood, the group said. The most recent delivery of information from the city to OR came in December 2012.
“Wendling’s argument that the otherwise-public records are protected by HIPAA is spurious at best. HIPAA hasn’t changed since last December, so if it was legal to release the records to us then, it should be legal to release them now,” Newman said.
“It really looks like St. Louis is trying to cover up for Planned Parenthood through an abuse of their authority,” he said.
His organization said the two recent reports of ambulances being summoned to Planned Parenthood noted that in one of them, the patient was non-responsive. Those two incidents bring the total of known emergencies at the abortion business since 2009 to 22.
Operation Rescue said Mary Maschmeier of Defenders of the Unborn has documented 19 medical emergencies between 2009 and early 2013. OR has noted three additional incidents.
The organization said it doesn’t expect information that identifies an actual patient, but “the rest of the 911 information serves the public interest because it documents the dangers that exist at a particular abortion facility.”
The group has obtained abortion-related 911 records from dozens of cities, “which acknowledge that HIPAA cannot be legally applied.”
The group said many cities redact some information, others redact no information at all.
Newman said that based on information obtained through open record requests, “we have lodged complaints with medical boards and health departments, whose investigations have subsequently resulted in the discovery of serious violations.”
“Covering up for abortion abuses only further increases the risk that a woman will be seriously injured or killed at shoddy abortion mills that flout the law and the standard of care,” he said. “For that reason, we continue to demand the release of public records for 911 incidents at the St. Louis Planned Parenthood.”