The abortion industry in Pennsylvania is suing to force taxpayers to pay for elective abortions through the state medical assistance program.
On Wednesday, lawyers representing eight Pennsylvania abortion groups argued their case before the Commonwealth Court, WHYY reports.
The Hyde Amendment prohibits federal taxpayer funding for abortions in Medicaid, with exceptions for rape, incest and threats to the mother’s life. However, some states do cover elective abortions in their state medical assistance programs. Currently, 16 do, but Pennsylvania is not one of them.
Planned Parenthood and other abortion facilities, all of which have a financial interest in the matter, want to change that. In 2019, they filed a lawsuit challenging a state law that bans taxpayer-funded abortions, claiming it violates the state Equal Rights Amendment.
On Wednesday, attorney Susan Frietsche of the Women’s Law Project told the Commonwealth Court that the law discriminates against women, according to the report.
“We’re not saying that women have a right to a funded abortion,” Frietsche said. “We’re saying that if the commonwealth decides to fund health care, it must do so in accordance with gender equality standards. It must do so fairly.”
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Jason Snyderman, one of the attorneys defending the law, responded that there are a number of medical procedures that the state medical assistance program does not cover, including treatments for infertility and erectile dysfunction, according to the report.
Another attorney for the state House Republicans, David Dye, also pointed out that, according to some experts and government officials, transgender men also can become pregnant, therefore a refusal to cover elective abortions is not gender-based discrimination, the report continues.
Several of the judges also seemed skeptical about the abortion industry’s arguments. As the report noted:
At the center of the case is the precedent set when a similar challenge was made in 1985. The court ruled in Fischer v. the Department of Public Welfare that the coverage ban does not violate the state ERA.
Bolstering the argument of the legislators and the Department of Human Services, Judge Patricia McCullough noted from the bench that in Fischer, the state Supreme Court outlined that the state’s explicit priority is to encourage the birth of a child in all circumstances unless another life, i.e. that of the mother, is in danger. In other words, the justices ruled it was OK to prioritize childbirth coverage over abortion.
Previously, Maria Gallagher, legislative director for the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, told LifeNews that money, not women’s health, is at the center of the abortion industry’s lawsuit.
“At a time when Pennsylvania’s abortion totals are at a record low, abortion businesses are trying to capture a lucrative market to prop up their sagging industry. This is a lose-lose proposition—for taxpayers and for pregnant women,” Gallagher said. “Poll after poll has shown that taxpayers in the U.S. do not want their tax money to be spent on abortion, period.”
If the abortion industry succeeds in court, Pennsylvanians could be forced to pay for abortions for any reason up to 24 weeks of pregnancy. The state prohibits abortions after that point.
Planned Parenthood and other abortion businesses would benefit financially from a win. Planned Parenthood already is the largest abortion chain in America, doing about one third of all abortions in the U.S. Its most recent annual report listed more than 345,000 abortions and a record $1.6 billion in revenue.
Abortion activists and the Democratic Party are pushing for taxpayer-funded abortions at the federal level, too. The Democratic Party platform supports abortions without restriction and taxpayer funding of abortions. Democrat presidential candidate Joe Biden said he also would end the Hyde Amendment and force taxpayers to fund abortions if elected.
Nationally, more than 2.4 million unborn babies have been saved from abortions thanks to the Hyde Amendment. Without it, researchers estimate 60,000 more unborn babies could be aborted every year.
It is not clear when the Commonwealth Court may rule on the case.