AUSTIN – The Texas Department of State Health Services must stop concealing abortion statistics compiled for 2014 — the first full year during which the State implemented provisions of the controversial abortion regulations of a Texas law known as Texas House Bill 2 (HB2) — demanded the ACLU of Texas today in a letter sent to DSHS Commissioner John Hellerstedt.
The ACLU of Texas outlines evidence that DSHS responded to dozens of requests for 2014 abortion statistics by falsely claiming that the statistics were still “being processed,” though the statistics were actually final in March.
“The State of Texas claims that HB2 protects women’s health. If that’s true, why wouldn’t our public health agency want to trumpet its success?” said Terri Burke, executive director for the ACLU of Texas.
The letter also states that supervisors instructed employees to lie about the statistics and avoid mentioning them, in an apparent attempt to circumvent the legal requirements of the Texas Public Information Act.
“If Commissioner Hellerstedt wants to rely on legal arguments to hide abortion statistics, the state’s Public Information Act provides a specific procedure for him to do so,” said Trisha Trigilio, staff attorney for the ACLU of Texas. “Lying about government information is not an option."
Commissioner Hellerstedt is the defendant in a case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court, Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, over two provisions of Texas' anti-abortion law. The question before the Court is whether Texas may impose onerous burdens on the state’s abortion clinics when the evidence shows that the challenged provisions undermine, rather than promote women’s health. A ruling on the case is anticipated this month.