Antis, Hospitals, Real Doctors and HIPAA

Last Saturday there was a confrontation between an anti and a client that I have been thinking about all week. We witness acts of harassing, shaming, and physical confrontations every day at the clinic. Cruel words are hurled at clients and companions, but this was one exchange between a client and anti that has stuck with me all week. I cannot shake the experience off like it didn’t happen.

A client and companion were approaching the clinic from the opposite side of the street. The clinic wasn’t open yet and they were peeking around the corner of a building blocking their view of the clinic door to see how many protesters were present when I started talking to them. We moved back a little on the sidewalk for our conversation so we were out of view for most of the protesters. When I explained who was who and when the clinic would open, they decided to stay where they were until the doors opened.

We were joined by an anti in a yellow vest. I identified the anti as a protester for the client. The anti  was relatively new to the sidewalk, but had a lot of the scripted responses we hear from her group of antis.

The anti started her approach to the client by asking, “May I ask you why you are here today?” The client responded by telling her a very personal story including details that would have made it anatomically impossible for the client to carry a pregnancy. In the course of the conversation, the client asked the anti to leave her alone three times.

The response? “Well, why don’t you go to the hospital instead of here? Have you talked to a real doctor?” The client responded by physically jumping towards the anti and yelling, “The fucking hospital won’t help me. My doctor sent me here.”

At that point I stepped between the client and the anti and asked the anti to leave the client alone as they had requested multiple times. The companion grabbed the client in a protective hug and asked the anti to go away too. Now the client was crying and visibly upset. The anti did walk away. A few minutes later the doors opened and we were able to walk to the clinic.

This wasn’t an unusual exchange. Something similar to this happens every week. I wish I had a nickel for every time I have heard an anti say, ‘Why don’t you go to a hospital’ or ‘Why don’t you go to a real doctor’ or after hearing personal stories, ‘Why don’t you come to A Woman’s Choice?’ All of those nickels would make me wealthy.

I would like to answer some of those questions for the antis. My hope is they will think before asking them. My hope is also the new antis will make themselves more familiar with female anatomy before commenting on what a client should do in their health decisions.

Why don’t you go to a hospital? The Guttmacher Institute State Facts About Abortion in Kentucky lets us know only 4% of abortions for Kentucky in 2008 took place in hospitals. Why wouldn’t a client choose a hospital instead of facing the antis at a clinic?

The simple answer is they cannot go to a hospital unless their life is in immediate danger. The law in Kentucky prohibits the use of public facilities for abortion.

  • A woman may not obtain abortion care at a publicly owned hospital or other publicly owned health-care facility unless the procedure is necessary to preserve her life.  Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 311.800(1) (Enacted 1980).

Why don’t you go to a real doctor? This always produces a big sigh from escorts. The doctors at EMW Women’s Surgical Center are real doctors.

  • EMW Women’s Surgical Center is owned and staffed by two board certified Obstetrician/Gynecologists who are also on the faculty of the University of Louisville School of Medicine. Our doctors have been performing abortions since 1980. In addition to their excellent medical techniques and surgical skills they are deeply dedicated to the overall health and well being of their patients.
  • We have a Certified Licensed Nurse Anesthetist, Registered Nurses and a Medical Assistant, all of whom are available to give our patients excellent medical care as well as emotional support.

Why don’t you come to A Woman’s Choice? We published a long article in December 2011 about CPCs, detailing in particular A Woman’s Choice. The article lists many reasons why a client would prefer not to ‘just step next door for 10 minutes.’ While being licensed by the State of Kentucky as a Special Health Clinic, they do not have a licensed physician on the premises.

There is another reason a client may not want to go to A Woman’s Choice or any CPC. They are not subject to HIPAA guidelines. HIPAA, Health Information Portability and Accountability Act is the rule that keeps your medical records private.

EXCEPT, HIPAA doesn’t apply to all organizations who provide medical services. It only applies to organizations who electronically submit billing to insurance entities.

  • A simple rule of thumb is that any provider who bills an insurance company or health plan is a covered entity under HIPAA. If your doctor accepts Medicare, for example, the doctor is a covered entity. A free health clinic may not be subject to HIPAA because it doesn’t bill anyone. A doctor who charges every patient $25 cash and does not submit a bill to any insurance company may not be covered by HIPAA. A first aid room at your workplace may or may not be covered by HIPAA. If you want to know if the organization you are dealing with is a HIPAA covered entity, ask. If you don’t get a straight answer, ask for a copy of its privacy policy. If [it] has a privacy policy, the policy will explain about HIPAA’s application. If it doesn’t have a written privacy policy, then it is either not covered by HIPAA or it is violating the rule.

How scary is that? The free ultrasounds and free pregnancy tests performed at CPCs, including A Woman’s Choice, are not bound by any regulation to not share patient information or to keep medical records confidential. If you are interested in finding more about how this could be a potential disaster to a client, Google ‘HIPAA and Crisis Pregnancy Centers’ or just ‘Kansas Abortion Records.’

I don’t expect the antis to take this information to heart and change their script any more than I expect them to not show up on the sidewalk to lie, shame, blame, harass and judge. But I can hope that if only one anti reads this and it causes them to think about different questions and approaches, it might help the next client.

6 thoughts on “Antis, Hospitals, Real Doctors and HIPAA

  1. Pingback: Sidewalk Bingo ~ by Anonymous | Everysaturdaymorning's Blog

  2. Pingback: Words Still Matter | Everysaturdaymorning's Blog

  3. I found this blog recently, I just want to say I think you guys are amazing, and I have great admiration for you. Im a 30 something woman who has consciously chosen not to have kids, and having spent most of my life in New York state, I think I take for granted sometimes how relatively untroubled my access to reproductive services has been. Reading this blog has really opened my eyes. Thank you for the time you take to share your experiences here. I’m sure this blog has brought greater awareness to others as well.

    • Linda,

      We are glad you found us. It is different in New York from Kentucky, that’s for sure. We appreciate your kind words.

      Thank you,

  4. Yep. It looks like you deal with the same idiocy every week. Wouldn’t a nice hand out be great for the antis? I think you ought to make some up with those Q & A’s for the antis.

    • Kittybrat,

      Yes, same things you deal with every week. I can just see us all trading handouts!


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