WASHINGTON, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Jacky Rosen (D-NV) joined 29 of her Senate colleagues in sending a letter to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) calling for immediate action to be taken to safeguard women’s ability to safely and confidentially get the reproductive health care they need. In their letter, the Senators urge the department to take steps to strengthen federal privacy protections under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to broadly restrict providers from sharing patients’ reproductive health information without their explicit consent—particularly with law enforcement or in legal proceedings over accessing abortion care.
“Our nation faces a crisis in access to reproductive health services, and some states have already begun to investigate and punish women seeking abortion care,” wrote the Senators. “It is critical that HHS take all available action to fully protect women’s privacy and their ability to safely and confidentially seek medical care.”
“In particular, HHS should update the HIPAA Privacy Rule to broadly restrict regulated entities from sharing individuals’ reproductive health information without explicit consent, particularly for law enforcement, civil, or criminal proceedings premised on the provision of abortion care,” wrote the Senators.
Since Roe v. Wade was overturned, the new patchwork of state abortion bans has caused widespread confusion among health care providers over whether they are required to turn over patients’ health information to state and local law enforcement. This confusion fundamentally threatens women’s health, as patients may delay or avoid seeking the care they need out of fear their sensitive health information could be weaponized against them. In recent weeks, states have investigated and sought to punish patients and providers for seeking and providing abortion care.
The full text of the letter can be found here.