On On June 29, in response to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Office for Civil Rights (HHS OCR) issued guidance on when entities covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) are permitted to share protected health information (PHI) without a patient’s authorization. HHS OCR focused specifically on disclosures required by law, disclosures for law enforcement purposes and disclosures to avert a serious threat to health or safety – among the few disclosures HIPAA expressly permits without first obtaining patient consent – likely in response to concerns that providers would be required to disclose patients’ impending or recent pregnancy terminations (spontaneous or otherwise) to law enforcement in states where abortions are banned or significantly restricted.

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