In response to a court order, University of Michigan Health System became the first hospital organization to agree to turn over to a federal judge the medical records of certain patients of a physician challenging the federal ban on so-called "partial birth" abortions. At least six hospital organizations were subpoenaed by U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft in November 2003 for the records of patients of the physicians involved in the challenge. All of the organizations, including UMHS, challenged the subpoenas or told Ashcroft such abortions weren't performed at their facilities. Ashcroft has said he needs the records to evaluate the physicians' contention that the procedure is sometimes medically necessary. UMHS said it agreed to turn over records, with identifying information redacted, to U.S. District Judge Avery Cohn in Detroit. Cohn will send the sealed records to the New York federal judge who is hearing the physicians' challenge. The New York judge will determine if the records are relevant to the case. In a statement, UMHS said, "We believe these actions protect the privacy rights of our patients." -- by Mark Taylor
System to comply with order for abortion records
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