In a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a coalition of state attorneys general asked for protections that would make it illegal to share someone's reproductive health information if that person is being investigated in connection to abortion, The Arizona Republic reports. The letter was signed by attorneys general in 24 states including California, Colorado, New York, and Washington D.C. The letter backs adding Biden-administration proposed amendments to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the law that dictates protections of private health information. If the amendments are approved, they would strengthen protections for reproductive health information. One supporter is Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes, who said, "In a post-Roe world, strong protections for patients' health information are critical to ensuring private medical data is not misused or weaponized by anti-abortion extremists."
The proposed protections would be important in preventing criminal or civil penalties for abortions as the Supreme Court ruling has allowed conservative states to enforce more restrictions. Fifteen states now have laws prohibiting abortion under all or most circumstances, Arizona included. The amendments would protect people who access reproductive procedures as well as health care providers. The proposed changes would also forbid the disclosure of protected health information for an investigation, civil liability, and criminal prosecution against a person who sought, obtained, provided, or assisted a reproductive procedure if the person is in a state where it is legal or if the person is seeking reproductive health care that is protected under federal law, regardless of the state where they are. "These provisions are essential to begin creating a more unified privacy landscape for access to reproductive care," the statement said. The coalition also asked for the creation of an online platform available nationwide that provides information on reproductive care and privacy rights, followed by a public awareness campaign to promote the website.