HEALTH CARE BRIEFING: NIH Guards Reproductive Data as Roe Falls

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Reproductive health researchers shouldn’t have to turn over their data to law enforcement in states with post-Roe abortion bans thanks to a federal statute—but legal experts caution it’s an added layer of protection and not a guarantee.

A program known as certificates of confidentiality protects identifiable, sensitive research data from the legal process, making the data inadmissible as evidence unless the participant agrees to its disclosure.

The program is written into the Public Health Service Act. These certificates aren’t new—they’ve been around since the 1970s, letting researchers study illicit drug use to guide evidence-based policies. The 21st Century Cures law (Public Law 114-255) further streamlined the process so that the National Institutes of Health automatically shields human research data using identifiable, sensitive information. Other researchers can apply for the same protections.

But the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization decision has new implications for reproductive health research, ranging from miscarriage to assisted reproductive technologies and abortion care, said Leslie E. Wolf, a Georgia State University law professor who’s been conducting research on Certificates of Confidentiality since 1998.

“We now have a wide range of activities that could be addressed in a research setting that are illegal,” Wolf said, “and where you can imagine a prosecutor trying to make a name for themselves, who may be interested in trying to get the data to know who in their state may be engaging in behavior that is criminal.” Read more from Jeannie Baumann.

AMA To Testify Roe Overturn Interferes With Patient Care: The push to end abortion services in some states is putting many doctors into difficult situations where they fear compromising the care they give their patients, the head of the nation’s largest doctors lobby will tell House lawmakers today.

“I cannot sugarcoat how severe an impact this is having on the ground for doctors and patients in these states,” Jack Resneck, president of the American Medical Association, told reporters Monday.

The AMA and groups like Physicians for Reproductive Health are set to testify before the House Energy and Commerce Committee today about the impact of the Supreme Court’s decisions to end the long-standing right to abortion in the U.S. Resneck said he’s hoping to underscore how some states are encroaching on the practice of medicine.

The AMA has long opposed abortion bans, arguing they can interfere with medical care. Congressional Democrats have been holding a series of hearings on ramifications of ending abortion access, but today’s hearing will be a rare occasion for medical societies to weigh in, Alex Ruoff reports.


  • Meanwhile, a West Virginia county judge said she would block the state from enforcing a 150-year-old law criminalizing abortions, according to attorneys fighting in state court. The preliminary injunction from Kanawha County Circuit Judge Tera L. Salango allows the state’s single abortion clinic to resume services. The law has been on the books since the 19th century. Jennifer Kay has more.
  • The White House dropped plans to tap conservative attorney Chad Meredith to a district court in Kentucky after learning Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) wouldn’t back him. Progressives were outraged by reports that Meredith, who has opposed abortion rights, would be chosen. It frustrated Paul for a different reason—he said it was part of a deal between Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and the White House without his involvement. Zach C. Cohen and Madison Alder have more.

Also on Lawmakers’ Radars

More Hearings Today:

  • The House Oversight Committee’s Select Coronavirus Subcommittee holds a Tuesday hearing on Long Covid and its health consequences.

Parliamentarian Reviewing Drug Pricing, ACA Language: Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) is moving forward on the Joe Manchin-approved package of Obamacare subsidies and drug pricing measures before the August recess, just before many Americans would receive notice that their Affordable Care Act premiums are set to skyrocket in January. The first stop is the Senate parliamentarian, who could decide this week on whether those provisions can be pushed through via a filibuster-proof budget reconciliation process. Read more from Erik Wasson and Laura Davison.

  • But the legislation is smaller than what progressives want. Public Citizen, a left-leaning consumer advocacy group, told Schumer in a letter that he’s making an “enormous mistake” by snubbing language to let Medicare negotiate insulin prices and cap the out-of-pocket cost of the drug. It comes as senators are working on a separate bill—outside reconciliation—to cap the out-of-pocket cost for insulin to $35 a month, among other provisions. But unlike the reconciliation bill, it would need 10 GOP votes, a tough threshold to meet.

Fauci to Retire Before January 2025: Anthony Fauci, who became a household name during the Covid-19 pandemic, will retire before the end of Biden’s current term, wrapping up a storied career as the top US government infectious disease expert under seven presidents and over nearly four decades, a person familiar with the matter said. He is 81. Read more from Riley Griffin and Jeannie Baumann.

More Headlines:

To contact the reporters on this story: Brandon Lee in Washington at; Alex Ruoff in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Giuseppe Macri at; Michaela Ross at

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