Abortion debate at the Capitol
BATON ROUGE - A Baton Rouge abortion clinic responded Wednesday to allegations by U. S. Senator David Vitter that they violated patients' privacy rights.
Delta Clinic Coordinator Sylvia Ann Cochran said they were unaware of any violations alleged by Vitter, and questioned the timing of his statements which coincided with votes in the Louisiana Legislature on new restrictions against abortion providers.
"Our patients' privacy is of our utmost concern," Cochran said. "We are respectfully curious about the timing and the release of this charge as abortion providers are facing laws that will either close some clinics and limit access for Louisiana women."
Vitter asked the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals earlier this week to investigate the clinic based on "credible information" that Delta violated the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act, known as HIPAA. DHH Secretary Kathy Kliebert said they referred the allegations to the FBI, Department of Health and Human Services and the Office of Civil Rights, which handles HIPAA enforcement.
Vitter, who is running for governor, has not specified what the violations entailed. WBRZ has made multiple calls to Vitter's office to detail his concerns, but has not received a response.
On Wednesday the Louisiana House passed a bill requiring abortion providers to have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of the clinics. Critics say the measure could force three or four of the state's five abortion providers to close, leaving open only clinics in Shreveport. Supporters said the measure protects women's health.
The bill was modeled after similar legislature passed in Texas, which was challenged in federal court. Medical organizations such as the American Medical Association and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists say there is no medical basis for such laws.