Thursday, October 01, 2009

DSHS Holds Regular Planning Meetings with Abortion Providers, Divulges Names of Citizen Watchdogs

Would you expect that if you file a request with the state government as to how much an organization is receiving in state funds that the government would disclose your name to the organization in question?

Well, if you're dealing with the Take Charge Family Planning program at the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), that's apparently what you should expect.

In 2008, we submitted a complaint to the Attorney General's office regarding the late-term abortion clinic chain known as Cedar River Clinics. In the response to that complaint, Cedar River director Beverly Whipple indicated that she knew this writer had requested information from DSHS about payments (tax dollars) to her organization.

There is no way Ms. Whipple should have known this.

We had filed a "Public Disclosure" request with DSHS to find out how much money DSHS had given to Cedar River in previous years in the form of Medicaid insurance payments.

(Cedar River Clinics does abortions up to 24 weeks, and even does secret abortions on teenage girls spirited out of other states without their parents' knowledge.)

While there may not be an absolute legal guarantee of privacy in such cases, most would expect that their name wouldn't be passed along to the organization under scrutiny. At least not without some sort of consequence.

We confronted a DSHS official about this. Her answers were woefully inadequate, and mostly incoherent.

One of her arguments was that it was good for organizations receiving government money to know that there are individuals keeping them accountable. She couldn't explain why that required the citizen's actual name from being disclosed.

She then suggested that the name might have been disclosed inadvertently at one of the "regular meetings" that this official, on behalf of DSHS, holds with the state's "family planning" agencies.

These meetings apparently include the Cedar River Clinic abortion chain, and the Planned Parenthood affiliates of Washington, including PP of Central Washington (which does what amount to coerced abortions), and PP of Spokane (which has been illegally overbilling Medicaid for years), and PP of Western Washington (which is doing 50% more abortions than it was just 3 years ago, while making millions of dollars in profits off emergency contraception).

We didn't know about these meetings, and this certainly didn't qualify as an excuse.

The bottom line was that this official seemed unperturbed by the privacy violation, and while she claimed she would "look into it", there have been no developments from "this investigation". And we don't expect any.

What we have learned is that the government (DSHS) admits to holding regular strategy meetings with the abortion industry to see how they can help each other, and these meetings include chit-chat, with private details, about members of the public who might be getting in their way. Ladies and gentlemen: welcome to the Land of Gregoire.


DK said...

Alas, Chicago style government in Washington. Are these meetings private or can we ask to be included?

AIW said...

I didn't ask, but I don't see how they can be private, not legally anyway. We should definitely ask to be included.

Anonymous said...

Under the Freedom of Information Act, since you were requesting information pertaining to a specific company as opposed to the compiled statistics of the governmental branch as a whole ie; the compilation of all abortions that governmental branch provided in total without revealing any providers name; before releasing that information they must submit a letter to the provider giving them a chance to review and approve or deny that informati0n be released.

In effect since you requested information pertaining to that specific company, you were requesting information that belonged to the company, and was identifiable as the company, which under the FOIA,is additionally covered under the Privacy Act.

Before responding to your post I read through both acts in their entirety to obtian this information for you.