Arizona Abortion Facility Sues State AG to Block Request for Info on Handling of Baby Body Parts

Photo Credit: Nora Pacher
Photo Credit: Nora Pacher

PHOENIX, Ariz. — An abortion facility in Arizona has filed a lawsuit in an effort to block a request from the state attorney general’s office for documentation surrounding its handling of the body parts of aborted babies.

“[To have an abortion is] one of the most intimate, most private and most difficult decisions a patient can make,” attorney Jean-Jacques Cabou told reporters this week. “The idea that the attorney general’s office can unilaterally force a doctor to turn over the details of these procedures is exceptionally troubling.”

In August 2015, Gov. Doug Doucey ordered that abortion facilities provide reports to the Arizona Department of Health regarding how they dispose of the remains of aborted babies. Attorney General Mark Brnovich, who identifies as pro-life, approved the rule, which immediately went into effect.

In December, Brnovich’s office contacted Camelback Family Planning and requested that it provide documentation as to the instances that abortionist Gabrielle Goodrick had donated  the remains of aborted babies to fetal procurement companies.

Goodrick sought a compromise and handed over only some documents, including “redacted consent forms reflecting the fact that, with the consent of patients, Plantiffs provided fetal tissue for research on seven or fewer occasions over a period of a few months in 2015.”

According to the lawsuit filed by Cabou, the response from Camelback Family Planning also advised that “neither Dr. Goodrick of CFP conducted any procedures involving donating, selling, or otherwise surrendering fetal organs or tissue for any purpose other than its immediate destruction since August 2015.”

In August of this year, Brnovich’s office served a supboena on Goodrick, seeking to question her under oath. The following month, Brnovich requested additional documentation regarding “instances since January 1, 2012 in which [Camelback Family Planning] provided fetal organs or tissue.”

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But Goodrick’s office objected, asserting that Bronovich was engaging in harassment and intimidation of abortion providers.

Brnovich stood his ground, and as the lawsuit states, “has made it clear that [his office] will not desist from its demand for the names and patient records of the patients whose fetal tissue was provided for research and from its demand that Dr. Goodrick be examined under oath about her interactions with and treatment of these patients.”

The legal complaint filed by Cabou asserts that doing so violates the privacy of mothers who have obtained abortions, and seeks an injunction to stop Brnovich from obtaining the documentation and/or conducting the oral examination. Cabou also contends that Brnovich’s actions are based on “an animus toward the constitutionally guaranteed right to abortion.”

Brnovich’s office has not yet commented on the legal challenge.

In his 1854 lecture at the University of Pennsylvania on criminal abortion, obstetrician Hugh Hodge declared, “[I]t seems hardly necessary to repeat that physicians, medical men, must be regarded as the guardians of the rights of infants.”

“They alone can rectify public opinion,” he said. “They alone can present the subject in such a manner that legislators can exercise their powers aright in the preparation of suitable laws; that moralists and theologians can be furnished with facts to enforce the truth on this subject upon the moral sense of the community.”

“So that not only may the crime of infanticide be abolished, but that criminal abortion be properly reprehended,” Hodge continued, “and that women, in every rank and condition of life may be sensible of the value of the embryo and fetus, and of the high responsibility which rests on the parents of every unborn infant.”

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