A state agency has asked a court to throw out a lawsuit alleging that Minnesota taxpayers have been wrongfully charged for more than 37,000 abortions on indigent women since 1999.
The Department of Human Services said in papers filed late Tuesday that the lawsuit should be dismissed because the plaintiffs have failed to show that the agency has made any improper payments.
It said the agency funds abortions for women on public assistance only when doctors certify them as medically necessary, as required by a 1995 Minnesota Supreme Court decision. It said that decision bars the state from prying into discussions between a woman and her doctor over her reason for seeking an abortion.
A hearing on the motion is scheduled before Ramsey County District Judge Kathleen Gearin on Feb. 28.
The conservative legal group Alliance Defending Freedom filed the lawsuit late last month, claiming the state pays for abortions that aren't really medically necessary, without the legal authority to do so, and without a meaningful review of whether these abortions really qualify as therapeutic.
The lawsuit seeks to suspend all public funding of abortions in Minnesota until the department can show that public funds won't be misused, and to prevent the state from spending money on abortions that don't qualify.
The state requires abortion providers to submit forms to receive payments for patients on public assistance. The list of allowed reasons on the form includes unspecified "other health reasons," and the lawsuit suggests providers commonly check that box for abortions that don't really qualify.