Operation Rescue makes 911 files public despite attempts at intimidation
By Cheryl Sullenger
Germantown, Maryland – Operation Rescue has received threatening e-mails from the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service that “strictly prohibit” the release of two audio files received in response to a Maryland Public Information Act request. The audio files are related to a 911 call placed from the Germantown Reproductive Health Services (GRHS) abortion facility on July 2, 2014.
“The extensive redactions and ban on publishing the recordings can only be considered part of a botched abortion cover-up by Montgomery County officials and an attempt to intimidate us into silence about the danger and frequency of botched abortions at Germantown Reproductive Health Services,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman.
GRHS is a late-term abortion facility that employs Nebraska abortionist LeRoy Carhart. The July 2 incident was the eighth medical emergency documented at Carhart abortion facilities since 2012. Video footage provided to Operation Rescue by local activists in Maryland clearly shows that an African-American woman was transported from the late-term abortion facility by ambulance suffering from unknown, but apparently urgent abortion complications.
The e-mails, sent from Michael Baltrotsky, Operations Supervisor of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service, warns Operation Rescue that a heavily redacted 911 call and radio traffic audio recordings attached to his e-mails contain “confidential information” and their release is “strictly prohibited.”
“There is absolutely no ‘confidential’ information in those recordings. In fact, they contain much less information than is usually provided and certainly less than is allowable by law. We have made the decision to publish the audio files because we simply cannot be intimidated into aiding in this obvious cover-up nor can we submit to what amounts to governmental bullying, which is the first step toward tyranny,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue.
911 Call (Redacted by MCFR)
Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Radio Traffic (Redacted by MCFR)
While the audio recordings do corroborate the fact that a medical emergency did indeed take place at GRHS on July 2, 2014, they reveal little else about the incident, except that two ambulances were dispatched to the abortion facility for “BLS,” which is “Basic Life Support” assistance.
But more importantly, the files exposes the effort in Montgomery County to protect Carhart and his late-term abortion business.
“The Montgomery County authorities have crossed the line with this failure to properly comply with the Maryland Public Records Act and their brazen attempt at intimidation. We are considering legal action to stop this cover-up,” said Newman.
Last month, Operation Rescue sued the City of St. Louis for improperly withholding public information from requests for 911 records.
“We are seeing more and more attempts to deny information related to abortion emergencies, but it is critical that we stand up to defend the public records laws because the public information contained in 911 records can help expose abortion abuses and spare women from future harm,” said Newman. “It is the duty of emergency communications records custodians to comply with the law and release the records with as few redactions as possible. It is not the duty of those people to conceal public information in order to protect abortion businesses or other special interests.”
Recently, the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service changed its procedure for placing Maryland Public Information Act requests for 911 documents. Requesters must now fill out a web form that requires disclosure of the reason a record is being requested. It also notifies the requester that “911 recordings will not be released without a subpoena or compelling [reason].”
“From our reading of Maryland’s Public Information Law, it is improper for records custodians to ask why a particular record is being requested,” said Newman. “That information should be irrelevant to them. Their job it to release the files when requested. Period.”
While the Maryland Public Records Act specifically states that the reasons for a request should not be asked, Operation Rescue stated that it needed the 911 recordings to support a complaint it plans to file with the Maryland Board of Physicians. However, the recordings are so heavily redacted that they would likely be of little or no use to Board investigators.
Operation Rescue has a long history of obtaining and publishing such recordings in order to expose the dangers of abortion and particular abortion facilities and practitioners and has frequently used those recordings to support complaints against abortion facilities and abortionists. Such records prompted investigations that eventually led to the closure of New Woman All Women abortion facility in Birmingham, Alabama, for instance.
Operation Rescue has successfully requested and publicly released two previous 911 calls from Carhart’s Germantown abortion facility related to medical emergencies that took place on July 9 and November 26, 2013.
A video produced by Operation Rescue that featured the July 9th 911 call was broadcast on Fox News last year. The video showed Carhart escorting a woman on a gurney to an awaiting ambulance along with the 911 call that revealed the 35-year old woman was suffering from uncontrolled bleeding.
“We believe that it is no coincidence that since Fox News aired our video, subsequent recordings have been increasingly redacted,” said Newman. “However, if information describing a patient’s condition in last July’s 911 call was considered public enough for release, what has changed in the law that would make similar information too confidential for release this year? The answer to that is nothing.”
Newman continued, “Secrecy works to benefit the wrongdoers and cover up their misdeeds. When the public is denied access to records traditionally considered in the public domain, then those who commit abuses can more easily get away with them.”