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Feds want abortion records; Planned Parenthood says no

A federal judge in San Francisco yesterday rejected the Justice Department’s attempt to obtain abortion records from Planned Parenthood Federation of America, a ruling likely to halt demands for as many as 1,000 patient files from clinics around the country, including the Washington area, according to Justice officials and the family-planning group.

The ruling by U.S. District Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton is a legal setback for the department, which is trying to obtain edited records of patients as it defends the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act, approved last year. Planned Parenthood and other organizations have filed lawsuits to overturn the statute on the grounds that it is unconstitutional.

In the Planned Parenthood lawsuit and in another brought in New York by the National Abortion Federation, Justice Department prosecutors have argued that they need the patient records to determine the veracity of claims by physicians that the late-term abortion procedure covered by the law is sometimes medically necessary.

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