Oklahoma law that collects abortion stats won’t violate privacy, backers say

Oklahoma law that collects abortion stats won’t violate privacy, backers say


Proponents of Oklahoma legislation that would ban sex-selective abortions and would require the collection and internet publication of statistics on abortions in the state are denying critics’ claims that the bill would violate the privacy of women seeking abortions.

Statistical Reporting of Abortions Act is slated to take effect on Nov. 1, but it may be held up in court.

The Act requires the Oklahoma Department of Health to publish data online on all abortion patients, including the woman’s race, marital status, financial circumstances, years of education, number of previous pregnancies and her reason for seeking the abortion.

The law does not allow women’s names to be posted, but it requires women to answer 37 questions, including a question about the county in which the abortion is performed. Sen. Todd Lamb (R-Okla.) told CNN on Wednesday that the questions were derived from questionnaires used by the Guttmacher Institutehe, the former research arm of Planned Parenthood.

Abortionists who do not provide such information will face criminal penalties and the loss of their medical licenses.

Oklahoma resident Lora Joyce Davis and former state Rep. Wanda Jo Stapleton have filed a lawsuit over the legislation.

Davis, who charges that the law is unconstitutional, is reportedly bringing the lawsuit in cooperation with the New York-based pro-abortion Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR).

She has argued that the demographic information required to be published is detailed enough to identify patients, especially those who live in small towns.

"These are women who are already in a tragic situation, and the law will expose them about a very, very personal matter," Davis told Foxnews.com, calling the publication of abortion information a violation of patient privacy rights.

"If you can think about being in a small town, you might know that teenager in the high school who is pregnant,” added Jennifer Mondino, a CRR staff attorney. "It's not that difficult to link that person to the data that's going to be available on the Web site," she said.

Mondino also charged that the legislation “violates the spirit of HIPAA,” the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act which regulates patient privacy.

Oklahoma State Rep. Dan Sullivan, the Republican who authored the bill, told Fox News that the data will assist education that targets demographics with high rates of unwanted pregnancies.

"If there's something that we can do to positively impact that segment of that population -- and have a lowering effect on those rates -- then we want to be able to look at what policy decisions we can make,” Sullivan explained.

He countered the accusation that women from small communities will be easily identified, reporting that only three of the 77 Oklahoma counties have abortion providers.

"If a woman from rural Oklahoma (county) goes to Tulsa (county) and has an abortion, her abortion stats are lumped together with all the other women who went to Tulsa to seek an abortion," Sullivan added.

"There's no way a person can be singled out or identified the way it would be listed."

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