Override vote signals new assault on N.J. privacy rights

By Rich Pezzullo | The Save Jersey Blog

Now that the New Jersey Senate has voted to reverse Governor Christie’s attempt to protect the privacy of New Jersey citizens seeking medical treatment, we need to contemplate the impact on the superseding Federal Law, HIPAA, which guarantees a person’s right to privacy regarding medical records.

It will be an interesting to see if the right to privacy trumps the right of society to protect people from potentially killing others.

Abortion rights depend on the nebulous “right to privacy” that this particular legislation directly attacks.

Killing others with guns, killing babies with abortion – both are considered legitimate choices under certain circumstances. One is protected with a right to privacy, one is protected with an enumerated right.

With the enumerated right being directly attacked by weakening the right to privacy, can other rights dependent on privacy far behind?

This is no longer a question about guns, abortions or even alcoholism in the home – but it goes to the right of a person to a private relationship with their medical provider and a right of a medial professional to be free from compulsory disclosure of patient records based on what the legislature in a given state considers the for the “better good of society.”

Big Brother PosterThe next step will be for alcoholism to be considered a compulsory report because it could put children in danger regardless of the presence of guns. There are significantly more cases of domestic abuse than there are shootings in New Jersey, and there are a tremendous number of walking wounded who have suffered at the hands of mentally ill abusers. The link between alcoholism and abuse is clear.

With the pesky protection of privacy finally removed, alcoholics, and those seeking mental health services because they live with an alcoholic, could be protected when the state removes the threat from the house for the good of the family based on a compulsory disclosure.

Once the threat of gun violence is removed from the homes of people who suffer from mental illness, the same thinking could be used to remove all threats from the home, namely the individual suffering from the disease.

Without a link between the act of seeking expungement to increased violence, all this law did was reduce privacy rights and put households and families at greater risk to meddling from government and subject medical professionals to an additional level of oversight and regulation with regard to record keeping.

If you like more laws mandating what your doctors must report, and more power of the government to decide what you can and cannot have in your own home, this is a “good” thing.

Those who see their privacy eroding and their doctors under constant pressure cannot be celebrating today. Sweeney took the freedoms of New Jersey citizens on the first step down a slippery slope that can only make things worse for health care providers and private citizens.

The day will come when our children will be surveyed in school to learn if parents are smoking or drinking. As part of care, school counselors, or mental health professionals will be required to make compulsory reports.

As we further empower government with a right to intrude and seize that which it does not approve, and we further remove the protection of privacy from citizens to live in peaceful enjoyment of their home, the natural evolution is a state where every action is subject to review by society and government, and all property and actions are subject to constant justification to an increasingly powerful state.

Mr. Sweeney is OK with that. His misuse of the legislature to attack privacy rights demonstrates his low regard for them. Every senator who voted with him voted for the power of government over the rights of people to quiet enjoyment and privacy in their dealings with doctors.

Shame on them all. What were they thinking?

I’ll bet they weren’t.

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