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Louisiana Antiabortion-Rights Advocates File Suit Against State To Publicize Abortion Records

July 28, 2014 — A lawsuit announced during an antiabortion-rights protest at a Louisiana clinic seeks access to mandatory reports that detail all pregnancies terminated in the state, the Baton Rouge Advocate reports. The protest was organized by Operation Save America in front of the Delta Clinic, an abortion provider in Baton Rouge. The clinic was closed that day.

By law, Louisiana physicians must fill out "The Report of Induced Termination of Pregnancy" for each woman who undergoes an abortion. The records do not use patient names, but rather a code number, and are used to calculate abortion statistics.

According to the Advocate, the suit asks the state Department of Health and Hospitals to make the records public. Antiabortion-rights protester Richard Mahoney, who announced the suit, said it stems from the department's refusal to make public records he requested three years ago. The department responded to the request in 2011, noting that state law prohibits the disclosure of patient data gathered from physicians.

Mahoney said that the information contained in the reports, which would include how many minors have received abortions and how many abortions led to complications in the state, could cause the state's remaining abortion clinics to close. He added that copies of the reports that he found in clinic trash bins led him to believe that the reports had been completed before physicians actually saw patients.

State DHH spokesperson Olivia Watkins in an email Thursday said the department is reviewing a copy of the lawsuit (Ballard, Baton Rouge Advocate, 7/27).