The ACLU Claims Texas Is Trying To Hide The Effects Of Restrictive Abortion Laws
Ahead of what promises to be a historic decision by the Supreme Court regarding regulations on clinics that place undue burdens on women’s access to abortion, the state of Texas is allegedly hiding the impact of restrictive abortion laws, according to the Texas American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The Texas ACLU says Texas’ Department of State Health Services has formerly released statistics and information on abortions in the state in March every year, and claims the state agency is intentionally hiding its 2014 data. The Department of State Health Services did not return a request for comment.
This data is particularly important now that it’s been more than a year since House Bill 2 became effective, unnecessarily forcing doctors to have admitting privileges at hospitals within a 30 mile radius of the clinic and holding clinics to the same standards as ambulatory surgical centers. Data obtained over this period of time could speak a lot to how the law is affecting women’s health in the state.
“Under instructions from general counsel for the chief operating officer, they began responding by saying that the statistics were still being processed and that they weren’t ready,” ACLU attorney Trisha Trigilio told the Texas State News Service. But, Trigilio alleges that this is a blatant lie. “The statistics were complete in March,” Trigilio claimed. Additionally, the ACLU alleges that the state of Texas is ignoring requests from both the media and academic institutions for its data.
If Texas’ Department of State Health Services really is hiding statistics about abortion, it’s with good reason. Frankly, restricting access to abortion through regulatory laws on clinics, as well as mandating waiting periods and “state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage” someone from having an abortion has pretty terrible effects from both an anti-choice and pro-choice perspective.
As compiled research by Guttmacher Institute reveals, regulations on abortion and closing abortion clinics point-blank don’t achieve the anti-choice movement’s goal of preventing abortions. Rather, they push women to travel out of state or even perform risky, self-induced abortions through the use of increasingly popular abortion pills. All in all, restrictions like those in Texas don’t stop abortions from happening: they just delay or render the circumstances around the abortion more dangerous for the women seeking the abortion.
It’s worth noting that the requirements thrust upon Texas abortion clinics have been deemed both “unnecessary” and “harmful” to women by medical professionals associated with the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and others in a brief sent to the Supreme Court as it deliberates on Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. Additionally, abortion in the first and second trimester is literally one of the safest, lowest-risk procedures out there. You’re quite literally 14 times more likely to die giving birth than having an abortion, according to research by at the Columbia University Medical Center.
As most medical professionals note, requiring doctors to have admitting privileges at hospitals within a 30 mile radius of the clinic and clinics to function as ambulatory surgical centers is entirely unnecessary, and is really just another costly effort by anti-choice lawmakers to misleadingly cast abortion as dangerous and shameful.
Last week, the ACLU wrote a letter to the commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, John Hellerstedt, demanding that the state release the data or respond with why they can’t within 10 days, calling the department’s shady actions “a direct violation of the Texas Public Information Act, Texas’s law protecting democratic control of government information.”
“State legislators have been saying, fairly consistently since HB 2 was passed, that the purpose of these abortion laws is to protect health,” Trigilio told the Texas newspaper. “So, it’s not really clear to me why the state health agency would be withholding public health data.”
Maybe, just maybe, Texas allegedly withholding its data has something to do with it proving HB 2 has in fact been hurting rather than protecting health.