Are we in Kansas, Dorothy… or the Republic of Gilead?

In something that Margaret Atwood has long portended, an American prosecutor, Kansas State Attorney General Phill Kline has subpoenaed records pertaining to late term abortions performed in his state. I suspected there wouldn’t be all that many abortion providers in Kansas, let alone late term abortions, and the number seems to be something like… two.
This mirrors prior unsuccessful efforts by John Ashcroft to gather evidence to enforce an unconstitutional federal ban on late term abortions; Kline purports to be “investigating child rapes”. No point in speculating as to Kline’s motives; the Republican prosecutor has been most outspoken in his opposition to all legal abortion (and wants to impose stoning for it, along with stoning for adultery, and stoning for… well, lots of things.)
I have long advocated Democrats calling for the repeal of Roe v. Wade precisely so that states like Kansas COULD ban abortion (and thereby leave people like me who live in New York ALONE and not in fear that Roe would be reversed and then abortion re-federalized in an attempt to ban it; more importantly, maybe Democrats could stop getting bitten on the ass by this issue which should NEVER have been a federal matter at all).
That said, however, I have a fun theory that the Kansas attorney general is not merely violating Roe in seeking to chill women’s efforts to seek a constitutionally protected right… I think he has quite possibly violated another federal law, for which he himself may potentially be prosecuted, particularly given what he is trying to do: invade the privacy of female patients.
I’m talking, of course, about the somewhat enigmatic HIPAA law… (the Health Insurance Portabiltiy and Accountability Act of 1996) which provides, in relevant part:
“SEC. 1177. (a) OFFENSE.–A person who knowingly and in violation of this part-
“(1) uses or causes to be used a unique health identifier;
“(2) obtains individually identifiable health information relating to an individual; or
“(3) discloses individually identifiable health information to another person,
shall be punished as provided in subsection (b).
“(b) PENALTIES.–A person described in subsection (a) shall–
“(1) be fined not more than $50,000, imprisoned not more than 1 year, or both;
“(2) if the offense is committed under false pretenses, be fined not more than $100,000, imprisoned not more than 5 years, or both; and
“(3) if the offense is committed with intent to sell, transfer, or use individually identifiable health information for commercial advantage, personal gain, or malicious harm, be fined not more than $250,000, imprisoned not more than 10 years, or both.

It strikes me that, although Kline is mouthing the “intention to prevent child abuse” rationale in a brazen attempt to fall under an exemption set out in section 1178 for “public health” purposes such as “investigating child abuse”, that provision only involves the issue of whether state law is superceded. I suspect that Kline does not have an independent state law basis for what he’s doing. (In fact, I suspect that Kansas is like most states and physicians are already under an obligation to report incidents of suspected child abuse.) Hence, my theory is that unless he has the young ladies’ consent to raid their medical files, Mr. Kline is probably violating their privacy rights, and, if so, he should be facing up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine, under federal law for maliciously violating HIPAA and the privacy of medical patients. Of course, that’s just a theory. (Like evolution.) He might be acting in the good faith dscharge of his prosecutorial duties (just as I might be signed as a left-handed middle relief pitcher by the New York Mets this season).
What are the odds that a President who won an election on a theme of gay-bashing and pandering to those who want abortion banned altogether would have his torture-happy Attorney General and crony prosecute? Non-existent. But perhaps there is some potential private right of action for those affected… certainly, there is a federal law basis under HIPAA to stop Mr. Kline’s fishing expedition right where it is, without the prickly issues of Roe itself.
From the state that already leads the nation in other areas of enlightenment, we give you this.
A recent book title asked What’s the Matter with Kansas? All I have to say is… yeah… what the f*** IS wrong with that place?