Still needs Supreme Court's okay to end standoff
A district court judge has vacated an order that would have required Planned Parenthood to provide medical records of patients who tested positive for pregnancy over a nine-month period.
"We're certainly glad this case is coming to an end and that the privacy rights of our patients will be protected," Kendall Dillon, director of communications for Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa, said Tuesday night.
Buena Vista County Attorney Phil Havens asked Judge Frank Nelson last week to lift court orders for pregnancy tests because he feared an endless court battle.
"I decided in my own mind it was not productive to continue," Havens told the judge.
The case "probably will be tied up in the courts for months, if not years, to come," Havens said earlier. "We don't have the resources and the time to devote to it."
The Buena Vista County District Court judge on Tuesday granted the county attorney's motion to withdraw his investigatory subpoena in the medical records privacy case in Storm Lake.
Nelson also granted Planned Parenthood of Greater Iowa's motion to vacate the court orders that would have required Planned Parenthood to release the names and addresses of women who tested positive for pregnancy between August 15, 2001 and May 30, 2002.
"He kind of gave an indication on Friday at the hearing that he would move pretty quickly," Dillon said. "I believe the county attorney also was eager to bring this to a close."
Investigators wanted the records to help solve the case of a newborn boy whose body was found at a recycling center in May. The orders launched an unprecedented court battle pitting government against privacy rights.
Planned Parenthood appealed the case to the Iowa Supreme Court, saying the order was an invasion of privacy.
The Supreme Court agreed to hear the case and granted a temporary stay, freezing the order to turn over the records while the appeal is before the court.
The Supreme Court was set to hear the case but sent it back to the lower court after the county attorney asked that the orders be lifted.
Planned Parenthood officials noted that the Iowa Supreme Court maintained jurisdiction of the case. It is now up to the high court to dismiss the case before it will be completely over.