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Where’s the abortion data?

The ACLU would like to know.

Right there with them

Right there with them

With the U.S. Supreme Court poised to decide the biggest abortion case in nearly a decade, the ACLU of Texas is demanding that the Department of State Health Services “stop concealing” abortion statistics for 2014 and make the information public.

In a letter sent Wednesday to department Commissioner John Hellerstedt, the ACLU accused the state agency of purposely withholding statistics that would show patterns of abortion across the state in 2014, including the number of Texan women who had abortions, the procedures they used and the types of facilities they visited.

The 2014 data is particularly significant, the ACLU said, because it was the first full year during which the state implemented provisions of the controversial abortion law known as House Bill 2. That law, which is the subject of a Supreme Court case, requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at hospitals within 30 miles of an abortion clinic and also requires clinics to maintain the same standards as hospital-like ambulatory surgical centers.

“It has come to our attention that your agency completed the relevant statistical tables in March 2016,” the ACLU letter said. “Since that time, upper-level supervisors within DSHS have instructed employees to mislead the public about whether these statistical tables are complete, and to refrain from sending email about the statistics in order to avoid creating a paper trail.”

The Department of State Health Services said the data remained incomplete.

“If the data were final, we would release it,” a department spokeswoman said in an email. “The detailed data for 2014 isn’t final yet for Texas. We released the provisional total as soon as it was ready several months ago, but the underlying details are being reviewed for accuracy. For the last several years, Texas abortion data was typically finalized and published between March and June.”

Yeah, I’m afraid the state doesn’t get any benefit of the doubt here. No question, if the data made their legal case look weaker, they’d do whatever they felt like doing to obfuscate for as long as possible. Sure, the DSHS could be telling the truth here, and under normal circumstances I’d counsel patience. But these aren’t normal circumstances, and there’s no basis for trust. Show us the numbers ASAP.

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One Comment

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    You’d think the state would be proud to announce that the numbers of abortions in Texas had fallen thanks to their efforts in passing HB2. I suspect that the numbers have not fallen, and all they have done is force the irresponsible and the poor to travel further to get their abortions, in other words, just a little garden variety harassment. This really doesn’t seem much different than keeping HEB out of the Heights. People will still get their beer, though they might have to travel a little farther to get it.

    Both are examples of the Texas Taliban codifying morality into law.