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State accused of illegally billing taxpayers for abortions

A case has been filed in Minnesota’s 2nd Judicial District accusing state officials of illegally spending millions of taxpayer dollars over the years for abortions that under state law do not qualify for government subsidies.

The case is asking for an order that all state funding for abortions be halted until officials can develop a system that will prevent payments that are illegal under state law for non-therapeutic abortions.

The case brought by the Alliance Defending Freedom on behalf of several Minnesotans alleges that the state bureaucracy under the direction of Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson has paid for almost 40,000 abortions that do not qualify for public assistance.

ADF explained that public funds in Minnesota can be used for abortions only when they are defined as medically necessary. But government reports there obtained by ADF show that of 47,095 abortions funded by taxpayers in recent years, “at most 10,044 abortions were performed for reasons that could qualify as therapeutic.”

The reasons include that the pregnancy was a result of rape or incest, or the woman’s emotional or physical health was at stake. But the state reports indicated that thousands of abortions were done for “economic reasons,” the fact the mother “does not want children at this time” and “other,” none of which should qualify for tax funding, the lawsuit alleges.

“Minnesota can only use public funds for abortions that are defined as medically necessary, but government reporting statistics clearly demonstrate that tax dollars have paid for thousands of elective abortions for indigent women, including a disproportionate number performed on African-Americans. More than 40 percent of publicly funded abortions were carried out on African-Americans even though they account for just over 5 percent of the state’s population,” the organization said.

“The critical taxpayer dollars of Minnesotans should not be used for medically unnecessary abortions, nor should such funding be used to take the lives of more African-American babies than other babies,” said lead counsel Chuck Shreffler, one of nearly 2,200 allied attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom.

“The reporting statistics are unambiguous,” added Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Steven H. Aden, who is co-counsel in the case. “The state is indisputably funding medically unnecessary abortions in violation of state law, and 40 percent of the abortions are being executed on African-Americans even though they make up only 5 percent of the state’s population. This lawsuit intends to stop this from continuing.”

ADF summarized that from 1999 through 2011, Minnesota taxpayers paid for 47,095 abortions performed on indigent women. But statistics from the Minnesota Department of Health confirm only 10,044 of the abortions were done for a “medically necessary” reason.

That means taxpayers in Minnesota were billed for 37,000 unqualified abortions.

The limits come from a previous case, Doe v. Gomez, which in 1995 determined that the state could not withhold state funding for “medically necessary abortions.”

But the court decision at that time said it “will not permit any woman eligible for medical assistance to obtain an abortion ‘on demand.'”

Shreffler said the state health agency is “going far beyond” what is allowed.

“[The state] has been expending public funds … without appropriation, in violation of Article XI, Section I, of the Minnesota Constitution by paying for over 37,000 non-therapeutic abortions performed on indigent women from 1999 through 2011, the complaint states.

“Despite the court’s holding in Gomez that ‘this court’s decision will not permit any woman eligible for medical assistance to obtain an abortion ‘on demand,” that is precisely what has occurred, and continues to occur, in practice,” the case says.

The organization estimated Minnesota taxpayers are required to spend about $1.5 million a year on abortions for indigent women, and the complaint seeks a declaratory judgment that the state has violated the state constitution.

A resolution would be an injunction “directing DHS to cease all public expenditures for abortions until DHS can demonstrate that public funds no longer will be expended for non-therapeutic abortions.”

And the action seeks a determination that funds that have been overpaid over the years should be repaid to the state.

The plaintiffs are Denise Walker and her husband, Brian Walker, who both pay taxes to the state of Minnesota.

Jesson is being sued in her capacity as head of the state Department of Human Services.

Jesson did not respond to a WND request for comment, but the department issued a statement that it would respond in court.