Ohio's Attorney General wants access to medical records of Ohioans who go out of state for abortions
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost is among 19 attorneys general who have signed onto a letter to the Biden administration, saying their states have the right to medical records of their residents who go out of state for abortions. The letter is written in response to a proposed rule change by the Biden administration that would provide additional protection for medical records of patients whose information might be used to investigate or sue people who obtain or facilitate abortions.
Abortion is legal in Ohio up to 22 weeks, at least for now. A Hamilton County court put Ohio's abortion law on hold last September, which banned abortion at the point fetal cardiac electronic activity could be detected, as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. That decision has been appealed to the Republican-dominated Ohio Supreme Court, where a majority of justices have publicly gone on record as being against abortion rights. The law was in effect in Ohio for much of the summer of 2022. During that time, it is known that some Ohioans went out of state to receive abortions, including a 10-year-old rape victim who went to Indiana to receive the procedure.
Jaime Miracle, deputy director of Pro-Choice Ohio, said Yost's signature on this letter shows he is willing to invade the privacy of patients who seek medical care out of state. "Yost is proving why this rule change is critical to protecting patients," she said, adding she fears Ohio's attorney general and others could use the information to retaliate against women who get abortions or those who might assist them in that effort.
"The fact that Dave Yost still wants to see your medical records and make sure that you haven't done anything, that's government overreach at its worst and shows just how far Yost and his buddies are going to go to push abortion out of reach of Ohioans and why Ohioans have to take a strong stand to protect abortion access," Miracle said.
Miracle's group is one of a coalition of organizations that collected more than 700,000 petition signatures to put a proposed amendment on the November ballot that could allow voters to enshrine abortion and reproductive rights into the state's constitution. At this point, those signatures are being checked for validity, and if about 414,000 of them are deemed legitimate, that issue will be on the November ballot. But before that, Ohio voters will be asked in a special Aug. 8 election to weigh in on another constitutional change put forward by the Republican-dominated Ohio egislature: one that would change the constitution to require the potential November abortion issue, and any other amendments on other issues put before voters in the future, to receive 60% approval for passage. Currently, constitutional amendments are passed with a simple majority of 50% plus one. Abortion rights issues have passed in most other states by more than 50% but less than 60%.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost has not yet responded to repeated requests for comments on this story. When and if he does, this story will be updated.