Pro-Life Action League Files Lawsuits after City, State Refuse to Comply with FOIA Requests

Pro-Life Action League v. City of ChicagoOn June 28, 2014 — nearly two years ago — pro-life sidewalk counselors outside the American Women’s Medical Center abortion facility in Chicago witnessed a woman being transported into an Chicago Fire Department ambulance.

The following week, they sent pictures of the ambulance to the Pro-Life Action League, and I submitted a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request to obtain the audio of the 911 call that requested the ambulance.

Although the Pro-Life Action League and other pro-life organizations routinely submit FOIA requests for 911 calls made to abortion clinics and have no problems obtaining them, the City of Chicago denied the request, citing federal HIPAA law.

A few months later, on October 11, 2014, pro-life sidewalk counselors outside the Family Planning Associates abortion facility in downtown Chicago witnessed a woman being transported into an ambulance:

[fbvideo link=”https://www.facebook.com/prolifeaction/videos/873529459331547/?permPage=1″ width=”533″ height=”300″ onlyvideo=”1″]

Two days later, I once again submitted a FOIA request to obtain the audio of the 911 call that requested the ambulance, and once again, the City of Chicago denied the request, again citing HIPAA.

If you think the HIPAA rationale sounds odd, you’re not alone, as the 911 calls wouldn’t contain any personally identifying information to begin with.  Our purpose in seeking the audio of these 911 calls is to highlight the dangerous nature of abortion facilities, and the public has a right to hear them.

Our attorneys at the Thomas More Society (TMS) appealed both denials to the Public Access Counselor of the Office of the Illinois Attorney General, which eventually determined there was “no clear and convincing evidence” for denying the release of the 911 calls.  Still, the City of Chicago refused to comply with the Public Access Counselor’s judgment, which the City maintains is “non-binding.”

Our only remaining recourse was to file suit [PDF] against the City, which we did on May 19.  On that same day we filed another lawsuit [PDF] against the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) after the Department departed from its own longstanding practice and refused to comply with our request for the names and professional license numbers of employees at several licensed abortion facilities in the state.

Watch this space for developments in both cases.

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