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WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) — The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) under the Biden administration announced a new rule on Monday aimed at making it more difficult for law enforcement to get its hands on medical data necessary to enforce state abortion bans, specifically targeting cooperation between investigators and health professionals across state lines.

The final rule, issued by the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR), modifies the Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) and Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009, which governs when patient health data can and cannot be shared.

Claiming that the U.S. Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade’s “right” to abortion “increases the likelihood that an individual’s PHI [personal health information] may be disclosed in ways that cause harm to the interests that HIPAA seeks to protect,” the new rule “prohibits a regulated entity from using or disclosing an individual’s PHI for the purpose of conducting a criminal, civil, or administrative investigation into or imposing criminal, civil, or administrative liability” pertaining to so-called “reproductive healthcare” that is legal within the state or protected by federal law.

Writing at The Federalist, Trump administration HHS OCR director Roger Severino explains how the new rules effectively mean that “law enforcement can no longer gather critical evidence of illegal abortions possessed by doctors until they provide critical evidence of illegal abortions to those same doctors, including abortionists who are the target of the investigation.”  

“Imagine you are a doctor in Idaho treating a patient suffering from severe uterine bleeding, a common side-effect of chemical abortion drugs,” he writes. “You learn your patient was otherwise in good health but an abusive boyfriend that impregnated her had ordered abortion drugs off the internet and given them to her at an extremely high dose ‘just to be sure.’ Because the events occurred in a pro-life state, it means the boyfriend (though not the mother) has clearly violated state laws protecting unborn children from abortion. A week later you get served a duly authorized search warrant for medical records by the local sheriff investigating the illegal abortion. What do you do?”

“Well, according to the Biden rule, HIPAA prohibits doctors and hospitals from disclosing information about ‘lawful’ abortions in response to any civil or criminal investigations inquiring about the legality of the abortions themselves,” Severino continues. “The regulation then adds that all abortions, no matter where performed, must be presumed lawful unless and until law enforcement can show that the abortions they are investigating are unlawful.”

The new rule is the latest in the Biden administration’s “whole-of-government” campaign to preserve abortion-on-demand in a post-Roe world. President Joe Biden uses his State of the Union addresses to vow to “restore Roe v. Wade as the law of the land again” if the fall elections reelect him and give him enough votes in Congress to codify a nationwide “right” to abortion, while his administration increases taxpayer funding for abortion at home and abroad and attempts to waive federal safety rules against distributing abortion pills by mail.

In January, Biden met with his so-called White House Task Force on Reproductive Healthcare Access to discuss “new actions” on Roe’s anniversary. Vice President Kamala Harris simultaneously announced the launch of a “Fight for Reproductive Freedoms” tour to highlight the left-wing administration’s pushback against pro-life legislation and its new efforts to ensure that women can continue getting abortions in the U.S.

The administration described new moves to make sure “that women have access to contraception” and force employers to pay for contraception. It’s also working to advance “education” of patients and health care providers on ensuring “access to emergency medical care required under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act (EMTALA).” The Biden administration is attempting to use the statute to force emergency room doctors to commit abortions under certain circumstances.