Abortion Funding

Brief argues there is no right to tax-payer funding of abortion

By Maria V. Gallagher, Legislative Director, Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation

The Pennsylvania state Constitution does not contain a so-called right to abortion—let alone a right for an abortion paid for by Pennsylvania taxpayers.

That is the holding of a friend-of-the-court brief filed by the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation, an affiliate of National Right to Life, and the Thomas More Society, a non-profit public interest law firm dedicated to restoring respect for human life.

The two pro-life powerhouses filed the brief in connection with the case known as Allegheny Reproductive Health Center v. Pennsylvania Department of Human Services.

In the case, which is now before the PA Supreme Court, the abortion industry is arguing for a so-called fundamental right to abortion and a right to funding of abortion at taxpayer expense.

But the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation and the Thomas More Society argue that the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was never intended to cover abortion.

As the brief succinctly states, “Although this Court has recognized that there is a state right to privacy in making certain important decisions, that right has never been understood to include abortion. Nor, given the Commonwealth’s long history of criminalizing abortion, could it be so understood.”

Moreover, the legal brief contends there is no state Constitutional right to taxpayer-funded abortions.

The brief notes that restrictions on public funding of abortion are Constitutional “because the refusal to pay for abortion is clearly related to the Commonwealth’s important interest in protecting unborn human life—a conclusion (abortion) providers tacitly admit.” 

Even if the state Supreme Court claimed the existence of a “right” to abortion, “the existence of a fundamental constitutional right does not carry with it a concomitant right to have the exercise of that right funded by the state.”

As the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation and Thomas More Society’s brief states,

“Pennsylvania, like thirty-two other states, has refused to facilitate, with the use of public funds, a woman’s choice to end the life of her unborn child, except in limited circumstances. In a unanimous decision, Fischer v. Dep’t of Public Welfare (PA 1985), this Court upheld the constitutionality of that decision.

“Providers are now requesting this Court to overrule Fischer, but have produced no new arguments or principled grounds on which to do so.”     

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