Operation Menace

[Content Note: Reproductive rights; anti-choice terrorism; sexual violence.]

A few days ago, domestic terror organization Operation Rescue (OR) announced that they had "obtained" medical records from a local clinic, Central Family Medicine, in Kansas. The clinic offers family planning services, including first-trimester abortions. OR "obtained" these records from a locked trash bin from "an informant". The break-in of the bin had been reported by the clinic to the FBI.

Anyway, yes, that's right: they have stolen medical records.

Then they worked to piece this information together and posted it online:
Operation Rescue posted what it claims were images of the redacted records on its website and YouTube. They claim the records include patient ages, gestation ages and photocopies of driver’s licenses as well as dates and costs for abortions performed at the clinics.
So, OR took stolen medical records and posted the information online. They claim to have redacted identifying information that was posted but, of course, they have all that information in their hands still.

The Kansas Board of Healing Arts said they were "looking into" the issue of the fact that OR obtained stolen medical records and posted them online.

The Board has also announced:

Kansas regulators said Thursday that they are investigating claims by an anti-abortion group that it has documents showing that a Kansas City, Kan., clinic broke the law by not reporting child sexual abuse.

Wichita-based Operation Rescue said it has “bits and pieces” of paper that identify patients at Central Family Medicine, a clinic that provides first-trimester abortions and related family planning services. The group says the clinic “cavalierly discarded” the papers.

The attorney for the clinic fired back, saying the allegation that child sexual abuse cases weren’t reported to authorities was untrue. She said any clinic documents Operation Rescue claims to have were either falsified or stolen from a locked trash bin.


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. “Americans have the right to know what goes on in these places. It’s not a pretty picture.”


On Wednesday, Operation Rescue reported that boxes of papers had been delivered to its offices. The papers were not official patient records, Sullenger said, but various pieces of paper that included 86 patients’ names, contact numbers and information about sonograms and ultrasounds.

“And the age of the baby,” Sullenger said. “I know way too much about these women.”
So OR's "informant" acquired these records by stealing them, OR posts them online, and the Kansas Board is investigating the clinic. Well then. Kansas is notoriously horrible when it comes to reproductive rights. Gov. Brownback is committed to any and every anti-abortion measure. In fact, if you recall, Brownback appointed Rick Macias, an attorney who has been affiliated with Operation Rescue, to head the very Board that is supposed to be investigating OR--and the clinic.

You'd think this was an utter violation of HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, right? Well, not exactly. You see, OR isn't an entity required to comply with HIPAA--and "de-identified" information is allowable under certain circumstances. BTW, CPC's are also not required to comply with HIPAA because they are not actual medical clinics.

But! There is the small issue (ahem) of accessing someone's medical records--in part or whole--when they did not give permission to do so (and then there's the whole stolen property bit...). As the federal government states:
The Privacy Rule gives you, with few exceptions, the right to inspect, review, and receive a copy of your medical records and billing records that are held by health plans and health care providers covered by the Privacy Rule.

Only you or your personal representative has the right to access your records. [...]
And with regards to that "personal representative":
A personal representative is a person legally authorized to make health care decisions on an individual’s behalf or to act for a deceased individual or the estate.
I somehow doubt the clients who had their medical records stolen, inspected & pieced together, and then posted online had appointed OR their personal representative and thus gave legal access to those records. Just a little doubt.

Operation Rescue is a domestic terrorist organization. They have blatantly accepted stolen property, illegally inspected medical records information, and then posted--if redacted--the records online. They are attempting to terrorize people who would consider abortion care because they're saying "we stop at nothing, we know who these women are (and "know too much", apparently), and we will find out about you, too". And the state of Kansas is their ally.

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