Maternal Mortality Bill Violates Right to Privacy

On February 7, 2019, the Idaho House of Representatives introduced House Bill 109 (H0109). Known as the Maternal Mortality Bill, this legislation seeks to create a maternal mortality review committee within the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.

According to the statement of purpose, the committee will “conduct a review of each maternal death in the state and develop strategies for the prevention of maternal deaths. The committee will provide annual reports to the Idaho Legislature and other stakeholders”

House Bill 109 attempts to shed light on the ongoing tragedy of maternal deaths and presents a way of addressing this concerning occurrence through data and collaboration of professionals. While we sympathize with the motives of the legislation, we do not support the method by which the legislation proposes to address this problem.

The legislation proposes to infringe on the privacy of the families who have lost a loved one whose death qualifies under maternal mortality. Allowing such a committee access to private, confidential medical records without a warrant is directly contrary to the 4th Amendment: no search and seizure without probable cause.

H0109 proposes to add section 39-9605 to the Idaho Code, which states:

“ACCESS TO RECORDS. Upon request of the department, all information relating to the incidence of maternal mortality under review shall be provided by health care providers, providers of social services, health care facilities, law enforcement agencies, coroners, medical examiners, emergency medical service personnel, providers of medical transport services, and any other political subdivision or agency of state government having information relevant to the performance of the committee’s duties.”

The bill does not allow the option to “opt out”. These channels allow access to infinite amounts of personal information. This legislation requires these organizations to hand over ANY personal information that they find applicable to their “study” with no questions asked. The bottom line is they are trying to have access to any information they want without barriers or warrants. This is a dangerous start and headed towards the total elimination of privacy.

We should pursue other avenues or scenarios to address the issue, rather than turning to the government for forced solutions. If we allow this bill to pass, we allow the government to have access to significant amounts of personal, private information.

On February 22, 2019, House Bill 109 narrowly passed out of the Idaho House of Representatives with a vote of 34-33-3.  

[Click HERE to contact your legislators.]


Madison Liberty Institute’s recommendation: OPPOSE

Bill Details

Number: H0109 (2019)
Text | Statement of Purpose

Floor Sponsor: Representative John Green (R-Post Falls)

Bill status: Senate Health and Welfare Committee (02.22.2019)