Public Records Suit Seeks to Deny Records to Pro-Life Activists

By Cheryl Sullenger

DDHMHBaltimore, MD – Arguments were heard Friday in a Maryland civil case that could affect the public’s ability to access open records related to abortion providers under Maryland’s Public Records Law.

Andrew Glenn, Director of the Maryland Coalition for Life, was sued last year by the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene after making a public records request for documents related to the licensing of abortion clinics in that state due to his concern that some abortionists were operating illegally or without proper licensure.

The DHMH sought to deny access to parts of abortion clinic licensing applications, claiming that public inspection of licensing documents would subject the staff to “harassment and violence.”

Francis J. Manion is Senior Counsel with the American Center for Law and Justice represented Glenn. Manion noted that the State “could not cite a single instance in which anybody was subjected to harm by somebody who gained information through a public records request.”

In fact, the State conceded that it had no reason to believe that Glenn posed any threat whatsoever, in spite of the fact that it chose to sue him.

Manion further stated in a blog posting about the hearing that “there is the clear mandate of the Maryland Public Information Act that instructs courts to construe its terms liberally, with a presumption in favor of disclosure.”

Glenn had good reason to request the public documents. Maryland abortionists have been found to be a generally troubled lot who have not always followed the law.

Perhaps most notable among them was New Jersey abortionist Steven Chase Brigham, who operated an illicit late-term abortion mill in Elkton until it was found out and closed after one of his patients nearly died from a botched abortion. Brigham has never held a medical license in Maryland.

Operation Rescue obtained records through public records requests that exposed the horrific details of that case. Hospital workers tipped police, who then raided Brigham’s secret clinic and discovered the frozen remains of 35 aborted babies. This resulted in the arrest of Brigham and his associate, Nicola Riley on multiple murder counts. Unfortunately, those murder charges were dropped after the State’s expert witness suddenly withdrew from the case.

However, because of the public pressure generated by the Maryland Coalition for Life and Operation Rescue, eventually all four of Brigham’s other Maryland abortion clinics were closed.

Operation Rescue has worked with Glenn to research other Maryland abortionists and act as watchdogs, reporting suspected violators to the authorities.

Those complaints have yielded impressive results.

For example, after Maryland passed new regulations in the wake of the Brigham case that required Maryland abortion clinics to obtain licensing, Glenn helped Operation Rescue identify at least two abortionists who continued to operate in defiance to the law.

Operation Rescue conducted investigations and compiled documentation that showed both Mehrdad Aalai, a former associate of Brigham’s, and Harold O. Alexander, a former associate of Florida’s notorious abortionist James Scott Pendergraft, were both operating illegal abortion businesses in Maryland. Operation Rescue released that documentation to the public in two special reports.

Complaints filed by Operation Rescue staff ultimately resulted in the closure of both men’s illegal abortion clinics, the surrender of Aalai’s medical license, and the suspension of Alexander’s license for a second time.

“It is likely due to the success of pro-life watchdog efforts, which benefit from access to public documents, that the DHMH filed suit to keep information from pro-life activists like Andrew,” said Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue. “Unfortunately, we are seeing efforts across the country to prevent pro-life activists from obtaining information that has always been considered public. We are confident that Glenn and the ACLJ will be successful in protecting our rights to access public records that help us expose wrong-doing and hold accountable abortionists who break the law.”

Manion noted that a decision on DHMH v. Glenn is expected in the next few weeks.

  • di from Oregon

    Thank God for ACLJ, wish I had the money to donate to this very just cause which brings such shameful judgement on our nation who slaughters their very most weak and vulnerable in the womb, “the least of these, my brothers (and sisters).”

  • Victress Jenkins

    One wonders why a state agency is so afraid of the truth coming out!! The public as well as Operation Rescue have a right to know what’s going on with these cases.

    The public should demand the truth and not just sit back and let these horrendous abortions go on!!

  • http://restore-dc-catholicism.blogspot.com Janet Baker

    This Maryland resident is not at all surprised. The secretary of MD’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene is one Joshua Sharfstein. Appointed by the pro-abortion governor Martin O’Malley, he had racked up quite the resume as a pro-abortion activist. See http://restore-dc-catholicism.blogspot.com/2014/04/maryland-abortionist-gets-his-knuckles.html

  • Jamie

    Great is your reward in heaven Andrew Glenn, keep up God’s work!

  • Don Hennen

    I don’t get it. He filed a REQUEST. Requests can be granted or denied. If they didn’t want him to have the information, why not just deny the request? How does it come to them suing him? If it’s illegal to file a request, why is there a procedure to file a request?

    I could imagine a scenario where he made a request and they denied it and he sued, but the other way around is just surreal.

  • Carol

    We pro-lifers have to be there to document and keep the pressure on these abortion providers. Otherwise, none of this would come to light. It seems everyone, including agencies that are supposed to exist to PROTECT people’s health, are covering for the abortion industry.