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Judge blocks Missouri AG from accessing medical records of transgender minors

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey St Louis Childrens Hospital
Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images; St. Louis Children's Hospital

Judge Joseph Whyte wrote that Missouri consumer protections do not require “blind obedience to the attorney general’s civil investigative demands."

Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey has been blocked from accessing the unredacted medical records of transgender children.

Bailey requested the records in March, 2023 as part of a state investigation into facilities across the state that provide minors with gender-affirming care. The Washington University Transgender Center at St. Louis Children’s Hospital was one of four institutions that filed a lawsuit in response to his demands, while providing his office with the redacted information.

Bailey claimed that the redacted records were not sufficient and pushed for the unredacted copies. Judge Joseph Whyte of the St. Louis Circuit Court ruled against him Friday, determining that Bailey's office has no right to the private information.

Whyte cited the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which prevents healthcare providers from disclosing a patient's medical history without their consent. Whyte wrote in the ruling via The Missouri Independent that Bailey's requests "are not specific and limited in scope to the extent reasonably practicable in light of the purpose for which the information is sought, and respondent has not shown that de-identified information could not be reasonably used for the purpose for which it is sought."

One of Bailey's requests demanded that Washington University “identify all clients to whom you have provided your services. For each client, describe your services, the dates you provided your services, the amounts clients, their insurance or other third-party payors paid for these services and any contracts related to these services."

Because Bailey's investigation was through the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, the state's consumer protection law, Whyte determined that the medical information was not relevant to the case. Furthermore, the MMPA has a section that specifically exempts privileged material, which Whyte wrote protects against “blind obedience to the attorney general’s civil investigative demands."

Whyte is the presiding judge in a similar case between Bailey and Planned Parenthood of St. Louis, in which the organization has so far refused to turn over any records. Bailey stated that he intends to appeal Whyte's decision.

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Ryan Adamczeski

Ryan is a staff writer at The Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel "Someone Else's Stars," and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.
Ryan is a staff writer at The Advocate, and a graduate of New York University Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing, with a focus in television writing and comedy. She first became a published author at the age of 15 with her YA novel "Someone Else's Stars," and is now a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. In her free time, Ryan likes watching New York Rangers hockey, listening to the Beach Boys, and practicing witchcraft.