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Published November 28, 2012, 11:30 PM

Suit alleges Minnesota improperly pays for abortions

Group says state paid for 37,051 abortions that weren’t medically necessary
MINNEAPOLIS – A conservative legal group claims in a lawsuit filed Tuesday that Minnesota taxpayers have been wrongfully charged for more than 37,000 elective abortions for indigent women since 1999.

By: Associated Press, INFORUM

MINNEAPOLIS – A conservative legal group claims in a lawsuit filed Tuesday that Minnesota taxpayers have been wrongfully charged for more than 37,000 elective abortions for indigent women since 1999.

The Alliance Defending Freedom argues that state government is allowed to pay for abortions for indigent women only for “therapeutic reasons,” including when the life or health of the woman is in danger or in cases of rape or incest, under state laws and a 1995 Minnesota Supreme Court decision.

But the group, citing state health department data it reviewed, said the state paid for thousands of abortions that it believes did not meet that standard.

The lawsuit cites health department figures showing that Minnesota medical assistance programs paid for 47,095 abortions on indigent women from 1999 through 2011. The lawsuit claims the state’s numbers indicate that – at most – only 10,044 of those abortions may have qualified under the 1995 court decision.

The lawsuit says that means the state paid for at least 37,051 abortions that weren’t medically necessary, without the legal authority to do so.

The ADF obtained the key data under the state’s Data Practices Act, which allows the public access to government data.

The lawsuit, filed in Ramsey County District Court in St. Paul, names Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson. It seeks injunctions to eliminate the use of public funds for non-therapeutic abortions, as well as a halt to public funding of all abortions until the department can show that public funds won’t be misused. It also asks the court to direct the department to recover any unlawful payments made to abortion providers.

And it also asks the court to dissolve the injunction enforcing Supreme Court’s 1995 ruling, known as Doe v. Gomez, which held that the state can’t deny abortions to women on medical assistance “when the procedure is necessary for therapeutic reasons.”

The Department of Human Services issued a statement saying it was reviewing the factual and legal claims in the complaint and that it would file a timely response with the court.

The lawsuit does not name Planned Parenthood, which is Minnesota’s largest abortion provider and inevitably would be affected by any further restrictions on state funding for abortions. Spokeswoman Jennifer Aulwes said the organization does not comment on lawsuits when it’s not a party to them.


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