Skrmetti seeks access to information on Tennessee women seeking abortions outside the state
Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti joined 17 other attorneys general in sending a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) asking that states be allowed access to medical information that may indicate a woman is seeking reproductive healthcare in another state.
Specifically, Tennessee and the other states represented in the letter have laws restricting abortion access. The attorneys general suggest in their letter that the states have an interest in this information relative to citizens attempting to subvert state law.
The letter was sent in response to a proposed HHS rule that would prevent access to sensitive information regarding reproductive healthcare, essentially creating an additional layer of privacy relative to this information.
The attorneys general said:
"The proposed rule defies the governing statute, would unlawfully interfere with States’ authority to enforce their laws, and does not serve any legitimate need."
The rule is being proposed in response to the Supreme Court's Dobbs decision which overturned Roe v. Wade and left regulation of abortion up to the states.
Current law allows law enforcement to access medical records if those records could assist in an investigation related to criminal activity. As their are now varying levels of criminality assigned to abortion procedures by states, Skrmetti and other top law enforcement officials are suggesting they have an interest in medical records related to reproductive health in order to determine if citizens from their states have sought abortion care in another jurisdiction.
Skrmetti was joined in the letter by attorneys general from:
Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, and Utah.