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Family Life Leag. v. Dept of Pub. Aid

OPINION FILED MAY 21, 1986.

FAMILY LIFE LEAGUE ET AL., APPELLANTS,

v.

THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC AID ET AL., APPELLEES.



Appeal from the Appellate Court for the First District; heard in that court on appeal from the Circuit Court of Cook County, the Hon. Arthur L. Dunne, Judge, presiding.

CHIEF JUSTICE CLARK DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:

Does the State Records Act (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 116, par. 43.4 et seq.) require the disclosure of the names of providers of abortion services, the number of abortions performed, and the amounts paid for those services under the Medicaid program?

This is the question we are presented with in this appeal. The Family Life League and certain of its members and officers (the plaintiffs) brought an action for mandamus seeking to require the Illinois Department of Public Aid to provide a list of physicians, hospitals, and other service providers (the providers) who have furnished abortion services under the Illinois Medicaid program to recipients from 1978 to the present. The plaintiffs also sought to determine the number of abortions performed and the amounts of money received by the providers for such services. Plaintiffs claim entitlement to the information pursuant to the State Records Act (the Act) (Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 116, par. 43.4 et seq.).

The Department of Public Aid and its director (the defendants) maintain that nothing in the Act requires them to create a "special abortion" list as requested by the plaintiffs. In addition, the defendants allege that providing such information would cause "the unwarranted invasion of the providers' and recipients' rights to privacy."

Upon plaintiffs' motion for a judgment on the pleadings, the circuit court of Cook County ordered the defendants to make available, at plaintiffs' expense, a list of providers under the Medicaid program who performed abortion services for recipients. However, the circuit court denied the plaintiffs access to the information on the numbers of abortions performed and the amounts of money received by each provider.

Plaintiffs appealed to the appellate court and the defendants cross-appealed, at which time the Illinois State Medical Society was granted leave to intervene as a cross-appellant. In addition, the Roger Baldwin Foundation of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Inc., was granted leave to file a brief amicus curiae. The majority of the appellate court reversed and remanded to the circuit court, finding that disclosure of the information requested by the plaintiffs would invade the recipients' constitutional right of privacy to make and effectuate their abortion decisions. (132 Ill. App.3d 929, 933.) The plaintiffs filed the current appeal before this court, at which time the Americans United for Life Legal Defense Fund was allowed to file a brief amicus curiae.

The plaintiffs relied in particular upon the following provisions of the Act, which are cited here in pertinent part:

"Reports and records of the obligation, receipt and use of public funds of the State are public records available for inspection by the public." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 116, par. 43.6.

"Any person shall have the right of access to any public records of the expenditure or receipt of public funds * * * for the purpose of obtaining copies of the same or of making photographs of the same." Ill. Rev. Stat. 1979, ch. 116, par. 43.7.

The defendants, while admitting they are subject to the Act, raise four arguments as to why the records in question should not be disclosed:

(1) Making the records available would directly infringe upon the recipients' right of privacy.

(2) Making the records available would have an inhibiting effect on the number of providers willing to participate in the Medicaid abortion program, thus indirectly ...


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