The XX Factor

Are All Electronic Health Records Created Equal?

So, Rep. Patrick Kennedy thinks that people should be able to keep information about STDs and abortions out of their electronic health records, which are mandated for every American by 2014 under the stimulus law that was enacted in February.

Why? I get that there are privacy concerns regarding electronic health records. It skeeves me out a little that the government will have access to them “when authorized.” (Guess I’ll have to read the half-dozen HIPAA forms I fill out every year a little more closely.) But if we’re going to have them, why is abortion special? And STDs? STDs can lead to cervical cancer and infertility. Isn’t that kind of important for a doctor to know?

Yes, there are stigmas associated with abortion, and maybe some women are embarrassed. But doesn’t that apply to other health issues? I was a little embarrassed about my high cholesterol score last year. And it resulted from a personal failing: I was eating too much! Can I keep that out? Can men keep out their erectile dysfunction? Any argument for keeping abortion and STD info private is an argument against electronic health records as a whole.

Maybe I’m a little worked up because I have been hearing, in regards to the Penelope Trunk Twitter kerfuffle, that women shouldn’t have to hide their abortions. Is Amanda right that ” the uterus just another organ “? Some women want to scream loud and proud about their abortion and not be criticized. But when it is time to include such information on medical records, all of a sudden it becomes private and none of anyone’s business. You can’t have it both ways.