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Indiana Health Department Withholds Records Detailing Abortionist Malfeasance

‘Enforcement is impossible in Indiana if we don’t have this data,’ Voices for Life Executive Director Melanie Lyon said.

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The Indiana Department of Health (IDOH) is blocking accountability for law-breaking abortionists by ceasing to release abortion records that regularly detail medical malfeasance. The decision follows several high-profile embarrassments for the health department and the abortion industry that resulted from making these records public in accord with state law.

Last year, the records exposed that abortionists may have broken Indiana law by failing to report abortions committed against girls younger than 16, likely rape victims. They also showed that the IDOH failed to shut down several abortion facilities even after three women died after abortions in those facilities.

Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita was also chastised by the state Supreme Court’s ethics office in November after his office doggedly followed up on information these records exposed about potential abortionist malfeasance. He was threatened with loss of his law license for accurately stating that an Indiana abortionist who killed the baby inside a 10-year-old rape victim is “an abortion activist acting as a doctor—with a history of failing to report.” After he paid a $250 fine to quickly resolve the issue, abortion supporters are seeking yet another investigation targeting Rokita’s law license because he hasn’t appeared publicly apologetic enough.

For years, Voices for Life used Indiana’s Access to Public Records Act to obtain “thousands” of monthly terminated pregnancy reports (TPRs) without a hitch. They and several other pro-life organizations use these abortion records to file oversight complaints with the IDOH and the attorney general’s office about potential abortionist misconduct revealed in the reports.

In July 2023, one month before Indiana’s 2022 pro-life law went into effect, IDOH stopped releasing this data to Voices for Life as required by state law, alleging conflicts with privacy laws. Indiana now allows abortions of babies of up to 10 weeks gestation if their mothers claim they were raped, on babies of up to 20 weeks gestation who may have fetal abnormalities, and until birth if doctors believe the mother’s life is in danger.

After months of delaying an explanation for the sudden halt, IDOH claimed it would indefinitely withhold TPRs from the pro-life non-profit because state statutes declare “medical records confidential.” The department claimed the drastic reduction in abortions thanks to Indiana’s post-Dobbs v. Jackson legislation would limit the number of TPRs, making it easier to publicly identify some women obtaining abortions.

“Due to the impact of legislative changes in SEA 1 (SS), individual terminated pregnancy reports submitted to IDOH after August 1, 2023 are no longer releasable through public records request,” the IDOH wrote.

In an opinion letter issued in December 2023, Public Access Counsel Luke Britt from Gov. Eric Holcomb’s office affirmed IDOH’s desire to dodge releasing TPRs to the public, as legally mandated by the state legislature. Britt claimed the September 2022 limit requires abortionists who take any actions under those exceptions to fill out a form containing more than 30 categories of “demographic data and patient medical history.”

“Given that the report is populated with information that could be reverse-engineered to identify patients—especially in smaller communities—you argue that the required quarterly reports should suffice in terms of satisfying any disclosure and transparency considerations. This office agrees,” Britt continued.

IDOH and Britt’s claimed “concerns about confidentiality,” don’t make sense to Voices for Life Executive Director Melanie Lyon. She told The Federalist her organization received several TPRs between September 2022 and June 2023 with the extra information designating the reason for the abortion.

She also said Voices for Life dealt with dozens of blacked-out TPR documents each month but will no longer have permission to sift through redactions because Britt claims it would “defeat the statutory purpose of the confidentiality requirement.”

Without access to the monthly TPRs, organizations like Lyon’s must lean on quarterly TPRs to provide accountability to abortionists with a history of ignoring Indiana laws. Those quarterly reports only feature aggregated abortion data, making it impossible to use them to identify specific doctors and hospitals ending life in the womb. That means hiding information making it previously possible for Voices for Life, other pro-life organizations, and Rokita’s office to pursue evidence of abortionists ignoring Indiana laws designed to protect women and children.

Information about the repeat offenders who break the state’s abortion laws is essential for third parties filing complaints with the state. IDOH’s history of abortion data errors casts doubt that the aggregate records released just four times a year will accurately reflect the true outcomes of Indiana’s abortion exceptions.

“Enforcement is impossible in Indiana if we don’t have this data,” Lyon said.

Detailed TPRs obtained by Voices for Life and The Federalist last year showed abortion facilities all over the Hoosier State “may have committed crimes and health violations” in 2022 including performing at least four abortions on underage teen girls.

Even though records indicated that three women died after undergoing abortion procedures and another two babies were born alive after failed chemical abortions that same year, none of the state’s 22 abortionists accused of medical malfeasance lost their licenses. Instead, Indiana’s Republican legislature and governor awarded IDOH a 2,000 percent increase in taxpayer dollars, from $7 million a year to $150 million.

“I don’t have any indication that the Health Department was reviewing the documents and doing these investigations internally on their own. It did take an outside party requesting and reviewing this data to bring it to their attention,” Lyon told The Federalist.

IDOH did not respond to The Federalist’s request for comment.


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