Ohio Hospital Withholds Medical Records From Lesbian Widow

An Ohio widow is fighting for the right to access the medical records of her late partner, who died of cancer earlier this year.

BY Daniel Reynolds

August 04 2014 1:57 PM ET

Barbara Graham

An Ohio hospital has denied the request of a lesbian seeking to obtain the medical records of her late spouse.

Officials at Bethesda North Hospital, located in Blue Ash, a Cincinnati suburb, told local TV station WCPO that federal and state privacy laws prohibit them from releasing the records of Barbara Graham to her surviving partner, Marcia Gallas. Graham died of cancer on Easter. The women were married in Canada in 2003.

Gallas, who still wears Graham's wedding band, contends that the hospital is denying her request because it does not recognize their marriage, even though she and her attorney have obtained a federal court order, based on another Ohio case, which involved the recognition of a same-sex marriage on a death certificate. The women were longtime participants in an Ohio State University health study, for which researchers need the records. Another Cincinnati-area hospital, Jewish Hospital, released medical records on Graham to Gallas without any problem.

"I'm grieving," Gallas said. "It's going to take a long time to get over Barbara and I really don't understand why they won't recognize … what am I to think except that they have a problem with same-sex marriage?"

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