Friday, February 03, 2006

Can o' Worms

Don't feel obliged to flame, but I'm willing to talk about it, if you guys think this is as important as I think it is. I'll trust that if we choose to discuss the issue, we can remain at least civil to each other. I'll promise to listen, as best I can, even when I disagree--as long as you do the same.

The Kansas Supreme Court blocked the State Attorney General's access to records from two abortion clinics, to protect the patients' right to privacy.

One online report tells us:

Kline spoke to reporters after details of the secret investigation, which began in October, surfaced in a legal brief filed by attorneys for two medical clinics. The clinics argued that unless the high court intervenes, women who obtained abortions could find government agents knocking at their door.

The clinics said Kline demanded their complete, unedited medical records for women who sought abortions at least 22 weeks into their pregnancies in 2003, as well as those for girls 15 and younger who sought abortions. Court papers did not identify the clinics.

The records sought include the patient's name, medical history, details of her sex life, birth control practices and psychological profile.

The clinics, which said nearly 90 women and girls would be affected, are offering to provide records with some key information, including names, edited out.

Today's Seattle PI says:

TOPEKA, Kan. -- The state's highest court on Friday temporarily stopped the state attorney general from looking at records from two abortion clinics, saying such a review could violate patient privacy.

The Kansas Supreme Court ordered a lower court judge to first make sure that Attorney General Phill Kline has the right to see the documents in his investigation of potential violations of state restrictions on abortion and suspected rapes of children.

If Judge Richard Anderson determines Kline does have that right, he must still ensure that the patients' privacy is protected, the court said.


I'm thinking about collective experiences, today. Sure, maybe we all read The DaVinci Code, but I'm not sure that counts. You know--the way communities bond, by experiencing the same things together. Do we do that any more?

I'm not quite sure how so many conservative-type folks ended up here in a blog-neighborhood somewhere near the intersection of Marxist Drive and Dogma Lane, but here we all are. I'm delighted you're here, too. You're a treasured part of the little community that this blog is growing into.

21 comments:

Sean D. Schaffer said...

I think medical records need to be kept private. Especially when it comes to someone's sex life. I don't think a person's sex life is any of the government's business.

Sex has always been an issue, so far as I understand it, of two people consenting to do it. If private records of a person's sex life are given to the government to decide what to do with, who's to say what the government would do to the people who never gave their consent to have their private records given to the government for review?

Will all those people who had an abortion when the law said it was legal, be tried for murder if it ever is made illegal? What about the male partners involved? Will they be tried and convicted of some heinous act that the law said nothing about when they did it?

There are so many 'What if's' that I frankly am frightened for those people whose records are being subpoenaed.

Jean Marie said...

It's a massive can, Mac. At the moment I'm half asleep, however, I'll check in tomorrow. Wait, it is tomorrow!

I think the street names you picked are hysterical! You're just a conservative magnet.

Anywho, Kline's agenda is personal and is neither representative of liberal or conservative thinking,IMO. Seems he's attempting to impose his own beliefs by creating a non-existent criminal component. In doing so, many innocent teens stand to be humiliated in public. And btw, once those records are opened, are they ever sealed, or do they follow them for the remainder of their lives? Are they then branded forever w/ a mistake made when they were a teen? Does it follow them into future employment? How about if they want to enter public office or the public eye? Does it follow them there as well?

I don't like this guy at all. Maybe I'm at my best when I'm half asleep. Hmm. I'd hate to be branded by his type of injustice for a mistake.

I could always wait until I'm awake and tell you how I really feel?

AstonWest said...

What seems to get swept under the rug (because abortion is the hot-button topic) is the state attorney general is supposed to prosecute crimes. That's his job.

Underage sex is illegal in Kansas.
I was under the impression that late-term abortions were still legal in Kansas, which is why it seems to happen all the time at Dr. Tiller's clinic.

Prosecuting crimes is Kline's job. If crimes go unpunished, will there ever be an incentive to stop committing them?

Kline also wants doctors to be mandatory reporters of underage sex, but again, that gets swept under the rug because it's not (always) tied to abortion.

That being said, I can see where mandatory reporting (or obtaining abortion records) could lead to more trouble than it's worth. In the case of the former, children wouldn't visit a doctor if and when they get pregnant, and that's dangerous. With the latter, they may attempt to perform procedures themselves. It's unfortunate children haven't been informed about the risks of having sex to begin with...

I heard about this just the other day:
http://justiceforchristin.com/
(Of course, I have a lot of questions left unanswered, but I offer it as evidence of the local mindset)

E is for Editrix said...

It really is such a tricky issue. I agree with Jean Marie's observation though: Anywho, Kline's agenda is personal and is neither representative of liberal or conservative thinking,IMO. Seems he's attempting to impose his own beliefs by creating a non-existent criminal component.

I think the justifications we come up with are really interesting. And of course a lot of people would side with Kline's justification that the records are necessary for criminal investigations. It's a tough, tough call.

I'm a little more interested in Mac's question about collective experience though, and if communities still bond today. As a New Yorker, I would argue absolutely. It made me think of all the recent things New Yorkers have endured together in the past 5 years or so. Of course 9/11 is the most potent of these, but there was also the black-out and a recent transit strike--more "minor" in the grand scheme of things, but still experiences shared on large scales. At least in this city, a lot of value is placed on those shared experience. I love that in this densely populated place we all feel united by collective memory. Sometimes I wonder if we'd have fewer polarizing schisms if more Americans felt this collective memory on a national level.

Mac said...

Editrix, the upcoming Superbowl has me thinking the same thoughts about collective experiences. NPR did a brief snippet on collective experience and media events, the other day--but the more I thought about it, out here, the experience isn't in actually watching the game.

Being in the Seattle area right now is a surreal blitz of green and blue (team colors) and ferverish discussion, and every store window painted and every reader-board with pro-Seahawks messages.

You are absolutely right about 9-11 and New York, and to a lesser extent, 9-11 and the entire nation as a result of the real-time media event it became.

I think that's why Bush can still get so much mileage out of it, although it's starting to sound to me like a thin justification for doing whatever the hell he wants, at this point.

Before anyone gently and aggrievedly points out that I wasn't in NY and don't understand--I spent the day trying to find my partner at the time, who worked in the Pentagon.

Jean Marie said...

Mac, I just had a thought about collective experiences. The only way they can actually happen is if we take the time for them to occur.

BTW, I don't live on Dogma Lane. I've recently moved to Contemplative Rd.

If we spent a bit more time in listening to each other, and I mean really listening. In lieu of one side having to be right-why is that, anyway? Why can't there be more of a meeting of the minds?

It's rare that we come together anymore for any length of time. Usually it's a tragic event such as 9/11. I live in CT and the closeness/softness was in the air for months. It then dissapated.

We have holidays and life resumes. And so it goes w/ the Superbowl. And we'll move on after. GO SEAHAWKS!! I have to be at ems tomorrow night, hope I get to watch.

Point is, we have to make time in order to come together as any kind of community. Not everyone's interested unless it concerns them somehow. Did I just imply people are/can be selfish??

As for this clinic in Kansas? Nasty business there. At the very least, Tiller needs to be prosecuted for negligence, malpractice and a few other things. And it has absolutely nothing to do w/ the abortion issue. The guy should have his license to practice medicine yanked. He shouldn't be permitted to perform surgery on a squirrel!

Sean D. Schaffer said...

So far as what Aston said concerning children being informed about the dangers of sex, I'd have to say most kids are. The problem is that many kids aren't looking at what is illegal, but rather they're looking at what is popular or what feels good. It is not popular among many kids to say "I'm still a virgin." Many kids see someone who's still a virgin at the age of, say, 13, as someone who has something wrong with them and should be stayed away from or mocked.

At least, that's what happened to me when I was a teenager.

Also, the sexual drive is said to be at its strongest during the adolescent years. It's very difficult to keep such drives in check, especially when a person is told, "Don't do what comes natural to you, or you'll be sorry."

It is for those two reasons that I can understand fully why a child would have sex anyway, even when knowing the very real consequences.

Dawno said...

From http://www.rainn.org/statistics/
Per the graphic: Unreported rape is supposed to be 58% of total rapes.

In the text on their website: "Young females are four times more likely than any other group to be the victims of sexual assault, and the least likely to report their victimization...Because of the methodology of the National Crime Victimization Survey, these figures do not include victims 12 or younger. While there are no reliable annual surveys of sexual assaults on children, the Justice Department has estimated that one of six victims are under age 12."

While I don't like the idea of anyone having the right to snoop around in all the medical records from abortion clinics, I'm of a mind that if they're giving abortions to young teens (under 16) that perhaps there shouldn't be *some* kind of way to get to the truth of how those teens happened to become pregnant.

I struggle with this because, like Aston said, I do worry that young girls who need to seek medical care will stay away from clinics because they're in fear of being reported. However, when does the right to privacy need to take second place to protecting victims? If one in six victims of sexual assault is under 12 and they are four times as unlikely to report it then these assaults just won't end. Too many people are just getting away with it - and probably serially. I find it outrageous that we can't figure out a way for medical professionals to somehow report the problem, and maybe get these sub human scum put away, while still respecting the victim.

wow. I guess that was a bit rant-y for Dawno.

Hey, Mac, looks to me like the conservatives who've visited are a lot like me. More centrist and just as discouraged by some of the extremism that's going on as you are. I continue to hope the Party will step back from the precipice. If only more folks from the middle would make more noise!

AstonWest said...

I've been accused of being a closet Libertarian myself...

AstonWest said...

Oh, while I'm here...a couple of the unanswered questions I had from the website I posted before:
1. If the girl had been sexually assaulted, why did the parents wait so long (late-term) to get the abortion in the first place?

2. If the girl was in such bad shape, why didn't the parents take her to the g.d. hospital instead of waiting around in the hotel and taking her back to the clinic periodically?

Those are just some of the reasons I didn't bother signing the circulated petition.

.:J.r.A.:. said...

About teens being informed about sex (seeing as this is the only subject I feel like I can weigh in on with any credibility...), I think that most are. We have sex ed classes starting in 4th or 5th grade now (well at least around here). Parents who are open about it help a lot too.

But as far as being a virgin...It's one of those things thats changed a lot over the generations. Now, people can say they're a virgin and it's ok. It's like saying you don't smoke, or don't drink. People just kind of shrug. It's become an accepted choice, people respect it.

But that's just from my experience, and others I know. I'm sure theres places where different sentiments about sex and virginity are held.

~J

Jean Marie said...

It wasn't like that when I was growing up, J! That's great to hear that virginity is a choice and it's a bit of a wow! I admire that.

Sean D. Schaffer said...

Wow, J! That's definitely not the way things were when I was growing up (the virginity thing, I mean.) We had sex-ed classes fairly early, (6th Grade, I believe,) but when it came to virginity, students in one High School I attended basically believed something was wrong with you sexually if you were still a virgin after the age of 13.

I'm glad things seem to be changing. And it sounds like they're for the better. It's good to know.

:)

weasel said...

"It is not popular among many kids to say "I'm still a virgin." Many kids see someone who's still a virgin at the age of, say, 13, as someone who has something wrong with them and should be stayed away from or mocked."

What has happened to the high school tradition of lying through your teeth about getting it on? Has an epidemic of sexual honesty hit this current generation of adolecents? :)

Mayden's Voyage said...

Sean D. Schaffer said...
"The problem is that many kids aren't looking at what is illegal, but rather they're looking at what is popular or what feels good."

No matter what else is said, it does not feel good to have an abortion, at any age.

I understand what Sean is saying, but abortion is about a lot more than a medical procedure. The body will heal, but the spiritual or psychological damage is something that gets over-looked time and time again...not to mention if a person between the age of 12-16 or 17 gets pregnant through violence.
As a parent, I am taking all steps necessary to protect my kids, from teaching about abstinence, to condom info. Yes, I am a Christian that closely identifies with the Conservative party, but I am not naive about teenagers either, I was one.
Mac, I am unsettled by the confiscation of medical records, which I think is a violation of Dr/pt. confidentiality, but I am even more unsettled by a practice that has not taken larger steps to get at the root of what has been happening to these girls.

Dawno said...

Astonwest said "I've been accused of being a closet Libertarian myself..." you sure that wasn't said after one of your Vladrian liquor binges and the word was "libertine"?

Frank Baron said...

I'm a conservative of the Canadian variety and here's an example of how right-wing my opinions are.

I think older teens (15+) who are involved in a relationship that could become, or is, sexual in nature, should be given permission to explore non-intercourse options. Yeah, I'd advise, even encourage, that they practice mutual masturbation as a safe(r) form of sexual expression.

Kids should be taught that intercourse isn't the be-all and end-all of a loving relationship. If they practice mutual touching to climax they can avoid pregnancy, STDs and a whole lot of stress.

(Becoming adept at foreplay is just a bonus for the future.)

So, by all means arm them with information but send them off with a package of tissues too.

Sean D. Schaffer said...

I agree with you, Frank. If someone of the age group you mentioned has the urge, I think they should be allowed the chance to express it without 'going all the way' as we used to say.

The only problem with that would be the belief among many that masturbation is a sin worse than adultery. I think one of our Surgeon Generals (under the Clinton Administration) was fired for mentioning masturbation as a natural and normal way of releasing sexual tension.

So it definitely would be a very controversial issue in the U.S. to allow 15+ year olds to do that mutually.

weasel said...

It would at least fit Mac's criteria for discussions of collective experiences though.

AstonWest said...

Dawno said:"you sure that wasn't said after one of your Vladrian liquor binges and the word was "libertine"?"

They could have called me a closet Liberace (sp) for all I know. I decided to take what I wanted to hear and run with it. That's always the best policy.

Next to sleeping it off...

JL4 said...

Personally, I stayed out of the conversation because it's more of the same old boring stuff....gay cowboys, phone call monitoring, DA's that are too hard-core, Judges that are too soft core....sigh.

Boring!