World
Activists in US Pursue Private Abortion Details Using Public Records Laws
Across the country, those who support abortion rights and those who oppose them are feuding in court over how much information should be disclosed about women undergoing abortions
 
This story was co-published with the Washington Post.
 
A few years back, Jonathan Bloedow filed a series of requests under Washington state’s Public Records Act asking for details on pregnancies terminated at abortion clinics around the state.
 
For every abortion, he wanted information on the woman’s age and race, where she lived, how long she had been pregnant and how past pregnancies had ended. He also wanted to know about any complications, but he didn’t ask for names. This is all information that Washington’s health department, as those in other states, collects to track vital statistics.
 
Bloedow, 43, isn’t a public health researcher, a traditional journalist or a clinic owner. He’s an anti-abortion activist who had previously sued Planned Parenthood, accusing the group of overcharging the government for contraception.
 
“There are stories in the data that bring home the reality of what these people do,” Bloedow, a software engineer, said in an email. “Any good investigator knows that when you’re dealing with hard-core criminals, if you ‘keep crawling through their garbage’ some evidence of criminality and corruption will turn up.”
 
The health department had already given him data for one provider, he said, and was on the verge of turning over more information when Planned Parenthood and other clinics sued, arguing that releasing the records would violate health department rules and privacy laws.
 
The legal skirmish, and others like it nationwide, reveal a quiet evolution in the nation’s abortion battle. Increasingly, abortion opponents are pursuing personal and medical information on women undergoing abortions and the doctors who perform them. They often file complaints with authorities based on what they learn.
 
Abortion opponents insist their tactics are generally not aimed at identifying women who have abortions but to uncover incidents involving patients who may have been harmed by poor care or underage girls who may have been sexually abused. They say they are trying to prevent situations such as the one involving Philadelphia abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, who was convicted in 2013 of murdering three babies after botched abortions and of involuntary manslaughter in the death of a woman.
 
“This is about saving the lives of women,” said Cheryl Sullenger, senior policy adviser for the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue, which is based in Wichita, Kansas. “A lot of people don’t understand that. It’s a systemic problem within the abortion industry today for abortion providers to cut corners on patient care.”
 
But those who support abortion rights say the ultimate aim of these activists is to reduce abortions by intimidating women and their doctors — using the loss of privacy as a weapon. They say their opponents are amassing a wealth of details that could be used to identify patients — turning women, and their doctors, into pariahs or even targets. In a New Mexico case, a woman’s initials and where she lived became public as part of an investigation triggered by a complaint from activists.
 
“I don’t think there’s any margin for error here,” said Laura Einstein, chief legal counsel of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands, which challenged Bloedow’s request. “These women came to a private health center to have a private health procedure, and that’s just not anybody’s business.”
 
In recent years, abortion opponents have become experts at accessing public records such as recordings of 911 calls, autopsy reports and documents from state health departments and medical boards, then publishing the information on their websites.
 
Some activists have dug through clinics’ trash to find privacy violations by abortion providers — such as patient records tossed in dumpsters — and used them to… Continue Reading…
 
Courtesy: ProPublica
 

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Economy & Nation Exclusive
Filing Income Tax Returns made easy for salaried people
A taxpayer who earns income from salary and owns a single house can easily file tax returns online without taking any help from professionals
 
Every year, the month of July makes every salaried taxpayer rush to file income tax (I-T) returns. However, for FY2014-15 (AY2015-16), the last date for filing tax returns is extended till 31 August 2015. The deadline is just a few days away. If you haven’t filed your return, do so after reading this piece. 
 
Tax filing has been an intimidating process for many people and taxpayers often face issues dealing with changes to tax forms or get stuck when they have a question. But with online facilities and services, I-T filing has become an easy thing. The taxpayer can file returns online with or without taking any help from accountants or chartered accountants (CAs). 
 
You can either use paid services for filing tax returns online or file it for free on the Income Tax department's e-filing website (https://incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in/). There are two ways to file tax returns. You can file an offline form and upload an XML file, which is generated when you fill up the form using the ITR utility, applicable to your status. The second method involves preparing and submitting your ITR online. For offline filing, you can download and use Excel or Java-based utility. 
 
For filing I-T returns online (for salaried people), you need to have your Form 16 (for FY2014-15 or AY2015-16) ready with you. You will also need your bank statements showing interest or any other income earned, if any, during April 2014 to March 2015. Also, keep handy the copy of your previous year’s return, TDS, savings certificates (if applicable). 
 
Here are some tips or guidelines for filing their I-T returns online based on my personal experience...
 
1. While we often remain dependent on accounting professionals for tax computation, one can always verify or calculate his/her own tax liabilities. I have been using a very good and free software (actually an Excel file) from a Bengaluru-based software professional Nithyanand. One can download the Excel file from http://www.ynithya.com/taxcalc/taxcalc/TaxCalc_2015.xlsx and calculate your approximate tax liabilities. 
 
This simple utility comes with an excellent help or guidelines, for using which all you need to do is enter your data. Once done, it gives a fair idea about your approximate income tax liability, and whether you had paid the tax in full or not. (In case it is not paid in full, you can always pay it through the NSDL website or online banking after selecting the appropriate challan. After making the payment, you would receive a challan identification number that is required for filing the actual return form.)
 
2. Visit the I-T department site for filing returns online— https://incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in/. Under the Services menu, click on Submit Returns/Forms’. If you are already registered, then simply log in. If not, you can register as a new user and then log in. You can visit the site and download forms without login as well, but for submitting tax returns online, one needs to be a registered user and then log in.
 
3. After login, select appropriate Income-Tax return (ITR) form. There are five types of ITR forms, ITR-1 or Sahaj, ITR-2, ITR-2A, ITR-3, ITR-4 and ITR-4S (Sugam) for individuals or HUFs having income from presumptive business. If you do not have any other income except from salary, you can select ITR-1. 
 
4. Download the small file or return preparation software as the I-T department calls it. This comes in .zip format that can be unzipped to open an Excel file. There is also a help file that is downloaded along with this software, which you can refer to for enabling macros, if needed.
 
5. Open the Excel file. Fill in the data on the first page using your Form 16 and Nithya’s calculator. You need to fill in all fields marked in green colour. If you have a home loan for a self-occupied house, then you can mention the interest paid using '-' sign in the income from one house property column. (Principal on home loan up to Rs1.50 lakh is exempted under chapter VI (Section 80C), while interest paid on housing loan up to Rs2 lakh is exempted under Section 24 of the I-T Act) Check and verify the data you filled in the form. Double-check and verify it with your source files or with Form 16 and Nithya’s calculator. Then click on the ‘Validate’ tab at the top corner on the right side. This will show if there is any data missing. If every field is filled in, it will give you an OK. You can then click on ‘Next’ tab.
 
6. This will open the second page (TDS). Here you need to fill in details like tax deduction number (TAN) of your employer/s (It is mentioned in the Form 16), and the tax deducted or TDS (Section 19/20 on the form). You need to provide same details of other employer/s if there is a change in the job during the year. In case, you have paid the tax on your own, then provide the details like BSR code, challan number and amount in Section 21 IT near the bottom of the page. Repeat the validation process and if everything is OK, then go to next page.
 
7. On the next page, you need to provide total number of savings and current bank account number held by you and IFS code/s of the bank/s (it is mentioned on your chequebook) and type of account. Make sure that the main bank account number, you are providing, is your regular and personal account rather than salary account for receiving refund, if any. 
 
8. Fill in other details like your name, place, PAN number and date. Double-check and verify all data you had entered on this page. If everything is right and there are no errors, click on the ‘validate’ tab. After a validation check, click on the ‘Generate’ tab on first page. This will create an XML file. Store it on your PC/desktop or laptop.
 
9. Login to the https://incometaxindiaefiling.gov.in using your username and password. Click on the Submit Returns/ Forms' under the Services tab. Select the relevant form (here ITR-1) and assessment year (here AY2015-16). If you have digital signature then you can use it. Otherwise, you can select 'No' option and proceed. 
 
10. For attaching the ITR XML file, browse to the location where you had saved the XML file and click on ‘Submit’ button.
 
11. If the uploading is successful, you will get an on-screen acknowledgement. Take a printout (in black colour, inkjet of laser jet only) of the acknowledgement or ITR-V form. You would also receive the acknowledgement on your registered email ID. This is a password protected file. You can read the directions in the email to open this file.
 
12. If you are using digital signature, then after receiving the acknowledgement, the process for e-filing is over for you. Although Moneylife does not recommend (the UID), but in case you have an Aadhaar number, then you can e-verify the ITR-V, so that you do not have to send a signed physical copy of the form. E-verification can also be done using e-filing one time password (OTP) received either through registered email or mobile number or through netbanking login. You can then skip below steps.
 
13. In case you are not a using digital signature for filing returns, you need to sign on the acknowledgement or ITR-V form. Make a Xerox copy of this signed form. Send the signed form to...
 
Income Tax Department – CPC,
Post Bag No - 1,
Electronic City Post Office,
Bengaluru - 560100, Karnataka
 
Use ordinary post or Speed Post (without acknowledgment) for sending the form, within 120 days after submitting your returns online. The I-T Department does not accept forms sent through registered post or courier.
 
14. Remember, you just need to send the signed acknowledgement or ITR-V form. There is no need to send either Form 16 or any other document to the CPC. However, keep all relevant documents safely in your possession.
 
15. After few days, you will receive an email from the CPC that would acknowledge the receipt of your ITR-V form. This makes the e-filing of your I-T returns for FY2014-15 or for AY2015-16 complete.

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COMMENTS

Ramakrishna Reddy Yekulla

1 year ago

You do not need to send the returns to Central Processing Center, Income Tax department in anymore if you E-Verify it.

Anand Vaidya

1 year ago

Thanks for the very useful article.

One can also check the tax liability on Income Tax website by entering income/exemptions data here:

http://www.incometaxindia.gov.in/Pages/t...

Shashank S

1 year ago

Hi!!

Although i have reservations over point no 4 & 5 i shall let it pass.

In point number 13 you have completely forgot to addfrom this year there is no need to send Physical copy to CPC bangalore. You can e verify it. Please include this point.

Otherwise this article will look like a rehash of last years article with year changed at respective places.

REPLY

Pravesh Pandya

In Reply to Shashank S 1 year ago

Agree. The content is same except for the first few paragraphs. No mention of eVerification either.

Yogesh Sapkale

In Reply to Shashank S 1 year ago

Thanks for your comment and suggestions. Unfortunately, since the government has not changed the process, so it may appear to be rehash. But a careful reading would reveal it is not.
Another points it e-verification, which is not mandatory and those without the UID number will have to send the physical copy, in any case.
Thanks again,
Yogesh

nitin joshi

In Reply to Yogesh Sapkale 1 year ago

Yogesh,
One point.
e-Verification can be done w/o UID also through Net Banking.
Thats how I have done it.
My status says e-Verified and EVC processed.
I am just wondering do you think I still need to send physical ITR-V?

Our Beef with the Doctors
When doctors are sued for malpractice
 
Doctors are, often, at the receiving end of malpractice suits, and with disastrous results. The matter was getting so out-of-hand that many countries, especially litigation-prone ones, decided to cap damages. Otherwise, insurance companies would either refuse, or hike, insurance premiums. 
 
Normally, a malpractice suit would have a procedural or diagnostic failure as the cause of action. Yet, one case centred on defamation by a doctor, coupled with malpractice. The complainant was fast asleep, under sedation. It also involved a third factor, admissibility of evidence when the recording is not authorised and unknown to the accused.
 
Dr Shah is a specialist. He was carrying out a procedure along with an anaesthesiologist, a doctor who administers and controls the sedation on the patient. The patient was a lawyer! It became a potent combination, as unfolding events will show.
 
It is common practice, in an operation theatre, for doctors to banter. It may be the stress or boredom. But they talk. And joke and, often, the jokes veer towards the anatomy, because that is what they have before them. And, as doctors, they have been sensitised to jibes involving body parts. During an operation to mend a broken leg, in 1976, this author was subjected to some such light-hearted stupidity. Not aware that the pethidine had worn off, someone joked about asking me, when I got up, about her future. She had misheard ‘psychic’ for ‘cyclist’. Next problem; the drill had been misplaced. It was found in the adjoining operation theatre. Someone joked, “They must be wanting to make another hole.” That patient was in for piles. 
 
Back to our lawyer, unconscious on the table. The reports say that he was not a brave sort and had asked myriad questions prior to the sedation. He was also worried about some rash on his genitals. Not wanting to miss out on the post-procedure instructions, he had switched on his mobile phone to record them. Someone had picked up his trousers, phone in pocket and still recording, and placed them under his table. Evidence that was admitted and proved inconvenient.
 
Haemorrhoids are growths. Most people have them. But, when one has inflamed, or ulcerated haemorrhoids, he is said to ‘suffer from them’, the term being used as a disease. Suffering from ‘haemorrhoids’. What our lawyer went through is both funny and sad since he was in for nothing, definitely not for ‘haemorrhoids’. 
 
The doctors started with ridiculing him for his anxiety. They referred to his body parts, the private ones, and suggested that he may have sexually transmitted diseases. All this was small talk to keep the atmosphere alive, as it were. After all, the jokes were on the patient who was in deep sleep! Nary a word would reach his ears. Or so the doctors thought.
 
Next came the haemorrhoids. None was perceived as diseased. So, the doctors decided to ‘doctor’ the report. From jokes, it went to cheating—a crime.
 
On his way home, the patient switched on the phone and was subjected to his recorded ridiculing. The forged report was discussed while he lay comatose. He did what lawyers do. He sued. The asking sum was a cool US$1.7 million. Now you be the judge.
 
He got US$500,000. Not bad for an afternoon’s visit to a clinic. The doctors have since been shooed away. The clinic has expressed its regrets. This happens in India, too. An advocate friend complained to his client, a doctor, about stomach pains. The doctor quoted a fee. Our friend said he could not afford it. They settled for a lower amount, the maximum mediclaim allowed. Procedures were performed. Tablets were administered. The pain subsided. The lawyer had an uncle, a septuagenarian, who was a general medical practitioner, in the old mould, and he asked to see the reports. He asked one question: “Where is it indicated that you had stones?” What a few analgesic pills would have cured had cost many thousands of rupees… finally paid by all of us as higher premium. Where, and when, will it all stop?
 

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COMMENTS

Meenal Mamdani

1 year ago

Two types of malpractice are described in this article. The first kind where medical staff talk about the patient imagining him unconscious and then have to pay a hefty sum for causing mental anguish. In USA damages are awarded for non-quantifiable losses like pain and suffering while in most other countries damages are based on actual loss to the patient like say loss of use of an arm or a leg.
The second incident quoted is fraud, where a doctor treats deliberately for a nonexistent problem. This kind would be criminal offense, not just civil one.
As to author's last comment, where will it end, I guess that depends on the maturity of the insurance marketplace. There is no reason why a doctor should charge a patient 3 or 4 times as much as soon as he finds out that the patient has insurance. This should be investigated and the insurance company should beat down the doctor's charges or else patient told to go to another doctor whose charges are more reasonable.
Unless patients revolt, doctors will continue to charge higher fees to those who have insurance and insurance companies too lazy to haggle with the doctor, will pass the charges on to customers as higher premiums.
The bottom line is patients must stop treating doctors like gods, read up on their conditions on the Internet, ask pertinent questions and get a second opinion wherever feasible. I am a physician and I would much rather deal with a well informed patient than one who has "faith" and has unrealistic expectations.

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