Have money to burn

States burn through cash defending pro-life laws from sore losers with lawyers

Though the moral cost of abortion is rightly the primary focus of pro-life activists, it’s also worth noting that the “right to choose” and its various penumbras impose a more literal cost on society as well. The Kansas City Star reports that the state of Kansas has paid almost $597,000 this year to defend pro-life laws against legal assault:

The office says it paid nearly $317,000 to Foulston Siefken, a Wichita firm helping defend a budget provision denying federal family planning dollars for non-abortion services to Planned Parenthood. The group has a federal lawsuit against the measure.

The attorney general’s office paid almost $177,000 to Thompson, Ramsdell & Qualseth, of Lawrence, to help defend health and safety regulations for abortion providers. Two Kansas City-area physicians challenged the rules first in federal court and then in state court.

The same law firm also received nearly $104,000 for work in a federal lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union against a law restricting private insurance coverage for elective abortions.

This is insane. There is no reason why states should be legally compelled to accept federal taxpayer money for abortion providers. There is no reason why states shouldn’t be able to prefer to contract with medical service providers who aren’t involved with abortion. And especially considering how many government regulations we tolerate without litigation in everyand I do mean every – other aspect of our lives, there is no reason abortion clinics or insurance coverage regulations should stand out as grounds for legal conflict.

Thanks to the convoluted legal framework the Supreme Court has forced on American abortion law and our country’s sue-happy culture, pro-aborts hit us coming and going: according to the rules, we can’t simply ban abortion, but if we try to play within those rules, we get sued. In their infinite selfishness, abortion supporters think nothing of exploiting every trick they can find to undo the results whenever democratic processes don’t go their way, and they couldn’t care less how much they cost the taxpayers in doing so. Abortion: because only a religious nut would think “choice” means voting!

Obviously, overturning Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton would go a long way toward dismantling the judicial sophistry on which these lawsuits rest, but as we’ve discussed before, that’s a big if largely out of our hands. It would be easier for Congress to strip abortion out of the various federal health care programs and subsidies, but that would still leave states like Kansas at the mercy of the federal government.

There is, however, one reform states could enact on their own which would be completely immune from federal abortion laws and rulings: loser-pays rules. If Planned Parenthood, the ACLU, and their pals knew that they’d have to cover the legal fees of any case they initiated and lost, it would force them to be far more judicious in deciding when to pick a fight, and it would decrease the likelihood of punishing taxpayers for the aggression of special-interest groups. It’s about time we made the left take some responsibility in exercising their own right to choose.

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  • Oedipa Mossmoon

    I’m not sure if this is meant to be a tort reform screed, an anti-regulation rant, or just the usual whining that your opponents neither see the world the way you do nor will lay down and be quiet.

    So I’ll approach it where I think the crux is: “abortion supporters think nothing of exploiting every trick they can find to undo the results whenever democratic processes don’t go their way”. How you can write this with no hint of irony is beyond me, given that the very laws and regulations we’re talking about can be described as “tricks” that abortion opponents “exploit” whenever judicial processes “don’t go their way” which leads one, as you state, all the way back to 1973.

    And if those laws and precedents are as convoluted as you concede they are, then the lawmakers that confront those precedents with novel changes in the law must accept the risk that they may be sued for those changes. They can’t have it both ways. They can’t be willing to push the envelope of abortion law and Title X law (in some quarters actually hoping for a direct challenge of Roe) and in the same breath complain that it lands them in the courts.

    Lastly, your assertion that life and government goes on in America with little litigation regarding regulatory authority willfully ignores all the mundane and banal litigation all around us. For perspective I offer my own hometown, currently being sued by a power plant developer who wants to place a 350 megawatt facility near a residential neighborhood. The city is fighting it tooth and nail and they get sued every step of the way. So far, they’ve tallied $250,000 in legal fees. I assure you, the city is in a fine place to absorb these costs. Given that the city has a $350 million dollar budget and Kansas has a $14 billion budget, I won’t be losing any sleep for Kansas’s ability to protect the laws it wants to protect. It could alternatively pull up stakes and leave them unprotected. But I think you and your cohorts would be apoplectic about leaving the laws undefended, compared to the modest effort it takes to defend them.

    • http://twitter.com/CalFreiburger Calvin Freiburger

      “The very laws and regulations we’re talking about can be described as ‘tricks’ that abortion opponents ‘exploit’ whenever judicial processes ‘don’t go their way’ which leads one, as you state, all the way back to
      1973.”

      They could only be described that way by someone who doesn’t understand or respect the Constitution and/or federalism. Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton are indefensible as judicial reasoning, unconstitutionally infringing on the rights of the people to set policy through their elected representatives. (For elaboration, see one of my responses you ignored a couple articles back.)

      The simple fact is, almost none of you pro-choicers care one bit about the fact that we live in a representative democracy that vests decision-making power in the people. You don’t respect the Constitution enough to either leave abortion policy to where it’s reserved, with the states, or to create a national right to abortion legitimately through a constitutional amendment. You don’t respect the people enough to let them decide for themselves which policies to enact in their states and communities.

      Which is to be expected — once somebody has accepted the proposition, “I may take an innocent life if it benefits me to do so,” then there’s pretty much no violation of their neighbor’s rights they won’t be open to.

      • Oedipa Mossmoon

        Roe has some novel rationale in it, I won’t argue with that. Lots of decisions do.

        The crux of your article revolves around these Kansas challenges, though. And as a guy comfortable discussing the law, I don’t understand how you can think Kansans don’t have a right to petition the courts.

        Unless you’re stitching your pro-life stance in with another right-wing hobby horse, tort reform. Even though the conventional tort reform crusader usually wants to protect corporations and doctors, not legislators.

        • http://twitter.com/CalFreiburger Calvin Freiburger

          “I don’t understand how you can think Kansans don’t have a right to petition the courts.”

          And like clockwork, here’s the mischaracterization of the day. Don’t ever change ;)

          • Oedipa Mossmoon

            You’re the one who characterized the plaintiffs as “sore losers with lawyers” and that the very spectacle of it is “insane”. Now, I guess there’s a way to read that and interpret your position as both acknowledging that these plaintiffs have standing and, nonetheless, you don’t like the merits of their cases. But I didn’t interpret it that way. In fact, you insinuate that they’re frivolous.

            Look, if these policies are well-constructed, they’ll withstand the challenges. I don’t think you should be shrinking away from the chance to prove them legitimate in the Kansan courts. It actually makes you seem a little “sore”.

          • http://twitter.com/CalFreiburger Calvin Freiburger

            Of course pro-lifers should be willing to defend their policies in court if they have to. That doesn’t exonerate pro-choicers from knowingly abusing the system.

      • Big Fish

        “…..we live in a representative democracy that vests decision-making power in the people.”  How do you feel about the current lawsuit against Obamacare? 

        • http://twitter.com/CalFreiburger Calvin Freiburger

          The Supreme Court should strike down Obamacare, because it’s unconstitutional. Now before you go shouting “AHA! Hypocrisy!” I’ll point out the obvious: the issue is whether a law is violation of the Constitution. If not, then the people should decide. If it is, then the courts must strike it down. Not all legislative acts are created equal.

          • Guest

            And if the worst should happen and the Supreme Court upholds the law, you agree that (in principle) the plaintiffs should have to pay the full costs of the case, correct?

          • http://twitter.com/CalFreiburger Calvin Freiburger

            Sure.