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ACLU claims Texas is withholding abortion statistics

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The American Civil Liberties Union of Texas is accusing the Texas Department of State Health Services of withholding 2014 abortion statistics, which state officials deny.

2014 was Texas’s first full year under its 2013 abortion facility regulations currently before the Supreme Court. The ACLU claims the statistics are necessary for determining the full impact of the law, though they concede they do not have a specific theory of what the statistics would allegedly show.

The ACLU has gone so far as to allege that the statistics were complete in March, and that public information officials were directed to lie about them when asked. The ACLU did not offer a basis for the charge, such as specific evidence or the testimony of a whistleblower.

Department of State Health Services spokeswoman Carrie Williams responded to the complaint by assuring Texans, “We released the provisional total [which showed a 14% drop in abortions in 2014] 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.”

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Despite the assumption that withholding the final abortion statistics somehow helps the pro-life cause, nationally inadequate abortion reporting tends to make abortion rates and abortion-related health complications appear lower than they really are.

The ACLU has filed an amicus brief in the Supreme Court case, urging the Texas law to be invalidated. However, despite its argument that the recent rules infringe on women’s health, the plaintiff, Whole Woman’s Health, has a history of health and safety violations the rules would force it to change.

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