The Spanish newspaper “Alba” has published a report denouncing the country’s Ministry of Health for distorting the number of abortions being performed in an effort to avoid paying taxes.

The director of the Euskalduna abortion center, Roberto Lertxundi, and the head of gynecology at the Santiago Apostol Hospital in Vitoria, Iñaki Lete, both confirmed to Alba that the abortion statistics published annually by the Ministry of Health do not represent the actual number of abortions taking place in Spain, as “only a portion of these procedures are registered” by public facilities out of fear of the fiscal consequences.

The president of the Spanish Society for Contraception, Ezequiel Perez Campos, also confirmed the report in Alba, saying it was consistent with the information provided by women who frequent abortion facilities.

Sagrario Mateu, who heads up the Ministry of Health’s division on women and children, said the official statistics are actually double what regional communities report, because such communities are responsible for collecting the data and “it is not so easy for us to demand the statistics.”  He added that in many public hospitals, abortions are often classified as other procedures.

Ana Pastor, who was Health Minister under the previous Popular Party government, said that hiding the true scope of abortion takes place both in private and public centers and that true number of abortions is distorted not only in order to avoid paying taxes but also out of shame and embarrassment.

Alba reported that health officials in Madrid confirmed that concealing abortion rates at public hospitals was widespread, as hospital personnel often strive to keep the information from doctors who object to the practice “in order to avoid problems.”

The Association of Abortion Victims in Spain has called on the government to investigate the claims, saying there is sufficient evidence that the number of women obtaining abortions may actually be double or triple the official statistics.