Skip to main content

Finally! Biden Administration Wants To Ban Healthcare Workers From Reporting Abortions to Police

Republicans who've been screaming about HIPAA are about to find out what it's really for

Closeup of a female doctor's torso as she looks at a digital tablet

Yesterday the Biden administration delivered a major win for people who love bodily autonomy when The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that will protect the rights of anyone who seeks an abortion from having their privacy violated. The rule prohibits “the use or disclosure of protected health information (PHI) to investigate, or prosecute patients, providers, and others involved in the provision of legal reproductive health care, including abortion care”

Per Politico:

The new rule adding language to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act — commonly known as HIPAA — would cover both people who cross state lines to obtain a legal abortion or who qualify for an exception to their home state’s ban, such as in cases of rape, incest or life endangerment.

The move, a longtime ask of abortion-rights advocates and Democratic lawmakers, comes just days after a Texas court ruling threatening access to the abortion pill — the most common method for ending a pregnancy.

Despite the overturn of Roe v. Wade last summer, and advice from the Biden administration, it was found that some medical personnel, when faced with a subpoena, were fearful of the police’s demands to turn over medical information, despite not being required to. This new rule effectively shores up a loophole. Per the above source:

During a call with reporters on the new rule Tuesday night, a senior administration official said that while the agency released guidance when Roe fell last June telling doctors they do not have to comply with demands for information from law enforcement or state officials about a patient’s abortion, they have gotten feedback from health providers and advocacy groups that a clearer and more binding rule would offer better protection.

“We found that even with the permissible disclosures [policy], some providers get fearful when they receive a subpoena or they might feel like they have to turn the information over,” said the official, granted anonymity as the condition for the briefing on the new rule.

Look, I may not be a doctor or a lawyer, but I am a geriatric millennial, so I lived through the heyday of “99 Problems” by Jay-Z, so the notion that just because the police tell me to do something doesn’t mean I have to, is seared into my brain. Resist, resist, resist. Any day you can ruin for a cop looking to bust someone for seeking an abortion service is a good one, my friends.

I’m glad DHHS finally got around to closing this loophole, but, uh, it’s April 2023. The ghouls on the Supreme Court decided I and 52% of the country didn’t need federally protected bodily autonomy almost a year ago. So, I guess this is a better late than never type of situation?

Since this is the federal government, and they’re not exactly known for working quickly, it’s not fully in effect—so if you’re a medical provider, remember, just because a cop asks, doesn’t mean you have to comply. There’s a 60-day period where the DHHS will take public comment and then will issue a final rule.

(featured image: MartinPrescott/Getty Images)

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow The Mary Sue:

Kate Hudson (no, not that one) has been writing about pop culture and politics for five years, and is a Contributing Writer at The Mary Sue. With a deep and unwavering love of Twilight and Con Air, she absolutely understands her taste in pop culture is both wonderful and terrible at the same time. She has probably seen Cliffhanger more times than you. Team Edward 4-Eva.