WASHINGTON, D.C. December 15, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Lawsuits filed by Planned Parenthood and other pro-abortion organizations are costing states millions of dollars in legal fees. A prominent pro-life activist told LifeSiteNews.com these organizations use courts “like a hammer” to “break down our organizations.”
Planned Parenthood and its allies have increasingly taken to suing states that have passed bills restricting its funding or enacting reasonable restrictions on abortion. Although the states may prevail in court, the battle forces taxpayers to pay high legal fees.
Kansas has been forced to pay $392,520 in the past six months to defend a variety of pieces of pro-life legislation, reports the Kansas City Star. That sum includes $237,834 to fight Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit to retain taxpayer funding, $94,380 to defend new abortion rules, and $60,306 fighting for a provision that stops insurance coverage for elective abortions.
Reuters reports that South Dakota has paid Planned Parenthood $623,000 in legal fees relating to two court challenges in the past decade.
Valerie Johnson, education coordinator for South Dakota Right to Life, told LifeSiteNews.com that her organization always monitors whether pending pro-life legislation is “in a form that can be defended by our attorney general and our state.” A loss for the state would mean that the state has to cover the legal fees of both sides of the case, and not just its own.
“We never want to line the pockets of abortion rights advocates in the way of legal fees,” Johnson said.
Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota (PPMNS) sued South Dakota after then-Governor Mike Rounds signed a 2005 law requiring doctors to tell women they have “an existing relationship” with “an unborn human being,” and that abortion would “terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being.” Every provision in the bill has passed judicial review, except a provision requiring doctors to tell women of a link between abortion and suicide, which has yet to be determined.
In March, South Dakota became the first state to require a three-day waiting period before an abortion. Women must also prove they have sought counseling and obtained information about alternatives that would allow them to keep and care for their babies. Planned Parenthood and the ACLU immediately threatened to sue. State officials estimate defending that law could cost the state between $1.7 and $4 million.
Joe Scheidler, the national director of the Pro-Life Action League, is no stranger to the courtroom. The final ruling in a lawsuit filed by the National Organization for Women against him came just one day short of the case’s 20th anniversary. He told LifeSiteNews.com lawsuits were the abortion industry’s way to silence and intimidate its critics. “They’re trying to put us out of business. They know we don’t have a lot of money, so they sue us.”
“They really want to break down our organizations,” he said. “That’s how it’s used. It’s a hammer.”
Hamid Kashani, an Indianapolis lawyer with the ACLU, has warned Indiana taxpayers their lawsuit over ending the state’s funding for Planned Parenthood could cost $300,000 before appeals. The Obama administration has joined the lawsuit.
The ACLU is also suing North Carolina over the Women’s Right to Know Act, passed over Governor Bev Perdue’s veto, in an attempt to block its requirement that women view an ultrasound of their unborn baby before making a final decision. Planned Parenthood receives $200,000 from North Carolina taxpayers each year.
But the legal fees will not deter pro-life activists and legislators from protecting democratically passed laws. A spokesman for South Dakota Gov. Daugaard said, “The cost of litigation is something he’s considering, but the fact that a suit is pending won’t change things.”
Scheidler said states, pro-life organizations, and individuals should not fear the threat of litigation. “It’s part of the battle,” he said. “I considered it a badge of honor…It says that we must be doing something that bothers these bullies enough that they’re willing to take you to court and spend all this money.”
He added that lawsuits helped publicize the pro-life message.
Valerie Johnson added that courtrooms provide legal remedies for both sides of the abortion debate. “We’d certainly sue over a pro-abortion law,” she said.
However, abortion advocates and their legal counsel enjoy far greater resources and budgets than their pro-life counterparts. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and its allied foundation have more than $400 million in assets. The Ford Foundation gave the ACLU $7 million in one year – 1999 – alone. Numerous other tax-exempt foundations give the ACLU hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.
For its part, Planned Parenthood is a publicly financed, billion-dollar industry.
Recently states have also been forced to consider the financial repercussions of their pro-life laws due to reprisals from the Obama administration. Only this past week news broke that the Obama administration was threatening to deny federal funds to a Texas heath program because the state had defunded Planned Parenthood. Indiana and New Hampshire have both received similar threats from the administration in the past year.