May 20, 2016
City of Chicago and Illinois Department of Public Health Risk Women's Health and Safety
Thomas Olp, attorney with the Thomas More Society, explained, "Both the City of Chicago and the Illinois Department of Public Health have acted unreasonably and unlawfully in withholding the requested public records. These FOIAs were filed seeking information regarding abortion clinics at which women's health and safety may be at risk. In both cases, the legitimate public interest in seeking the records is provable and compelling. Yet neither the city nor the health department has complied with the Illinois Freedom of Information Act which declares the public policy of the State of Illinois to be that 'all persons are entitled to full and complete information regarding the affairs of government.'"
He added that the Illinois FOIA law raises a presumption that "all records in the custody or possession of a public body are ...open to inspection or copying." While private information may be exempt from public disclosure (if it is "highly personal or objectionable to a reasonable person and in which the subject's right to privacy outweighs any legitimate public interest in obtaining the information"), the burden of proving the exemption rests squarely on the agency asserting the exemption. In neither case, Olp maintained, has the city or health department met the burden of proving that its refusal to disclose public records was justified.
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