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Digging for Dirt on Abortionists
Getting started: Who they are and what the inspectors say
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Dateline: 3/21/01

The most important tool for effective local activism is information about the local abortion facilities and doctors. This information can help ensure that quackery doesn't go unnoticed and unpunished, and that your local abortion facility is toeing the line when it comes to laws and regulations.

You don't have to be a private eye to investigate your local abortion facility. All you need is some chutzpah, a little money, and some willingness to dig.

The first thing to do is get all the correct information about the facility. Sometimes the name in the Yellow Pages or on the door isn't the name under which they legally operate -- it might just legally be the name of the building, or of a parent corporation that owns the abortion facility. Find out what agency in your state oversees medical facilities. It may be the Department of Human Resources. It might be the Department of Health. For the name and Web site of the agency most likely to oversee abortion facilities in your state, go to State Health Departments.

Make phone calls to the most likely departments, keeping track of who you talked to and to whom they referred you, until you find out where to send your request for information. Once you have the name of the facility, and the names of the doctor(s), you're ready to really start digging.

Now, start requesting inspection reports on the facility from the licensing agency. You can find a wealth of information there, from information about equipment and staff to reviews of patient care. They can be dry and dull, but they can also reveal a lot of information about astonishing lapses in professionalism. It was from inspection reports of Inglewood Women's Hospital in California that Life Dynamics was able to document that abortionists there were falsifying patient records under the very eyes of inspectors!

Inspection reports will also give you an idea if the facility is violating the Americans With Disabilities Act by not being handicapped accessible. You can spot possible OSHA violations. Think what regulatory agencies might have an interest in irregularities at the abortion facility. Use your imagination. Remember, the Feds nailed Al Capone for income tax evasion, not for all the violence associated with acquiring his ill-gotten gains. It's a lot easier to get government agencies involved over pencil-pushing irregularities than it is to get them upset over patient care and malpractice. The violation may seem trivial to you, but it might be a good way to get a bad facility shut down, at least temporarily.

A good next step is an open records request to the Medicaid billing department in your state. This should give you the correct name of the facility, and the names of any doctors that are billing Medicaid. Not only can you use this information to start searching for lawsuits against the facility and doctors, you can check to see if they are getting illegal Medicaid reimbursements. Most states do NOT pay for elective abortions. Give them the name and address of the facility and the name(s) of the doctor(s). Then, make an open records request to the audit department of Medicaid in your state asking for a breakdown of the costs that each doctor was reimbursed for each year. Ask for the reimbursements by code. You can then check the codes against a list of Medicaid-reimbursable codes for your state (again, ask the auditing department to provide you with such a list). If one person tells you that this information isn't available, make phone calls and keep pestering and requesting until you get the information. This is public record, and you have every right to ask for it. They'll charge for this information. One researcher told me that he got two years' worth of records on ten abortionists for a cost of $97. Since this research has the potential to uncover Medicaid fraud and perhaps send the abortionist to court and/or prison, it's well worth the expense.

Next page > What's the abortionist got to hide?

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