The ACLU Misleads and Planned Parenthood Drafts the Resolution
By Luanne Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
RALEIGH — Rejecting the advice of their own legal staff in favor of a resolution drafted by a Planned Parenthood attorney, a majority of Wake County Commissioners voted Monday to reinstate county employees’ insurance coverage for elective abortions. The move came a month after county administrators stopped the abortion funding when informed of the implications of a 1981 N.C. Supreme Court ruling.
The commission deadlocked over the issue in February, but on Monday, board member Harold Webb, who had been ill, voted via telephone and joined other Democrats to force taxpayers once again to support killing the unborn.
“Every poll bears out the fact that taxpayers do not support paying for elective abortions,” said Dorothy Yeung, chairman of Triangle Right to Life. “We felt very confident in relaying that to commissioners and letting them know where most people stand on this issue.”
In fact, a recent CNN poll showed that 61 percent of respondents oppose using public funds for abortion. But Yeung said that even though pro-life supporters put in numerous phone calls to commissioners, abortion pushers apparently had a stronger influence.
“Planned Parenthood and the ACLU were able to put a tremendous amount of pressure on commissioners. They pushed their agenda and got their way this time,” Yeung said.
The ACLU had distributed a memorandum claiming that failing to pay for an elective abortion violates the N.C. Declaration of Rights.
“While the ACLU always takes a hard left position, it rarely makes such an egregious misstatement of the law,” said Rep. Paul Stam (R-Wake), who initially brought Wake County’s violation of the 1981 ruling to the attention of Commission Chairman Tony Gurley. “This question has been decided by the N.C. Supreme Court in Rosie J. v. N.C. Department of Human Resources.”
Charlotte Attorney Mark D. Gott agreed that the ACLU’s claim that “By removing coverage for procedures applicable to women only, Wake County has exposed itself to liability under Section 19 guarantees of the North Carolina Constitution” is way off base.
“This very argument was considered and REJECTED by the North Carolina Supreme Court in Rosie J. v. N.C. Department of Human Resources,” he wrote in a March 15 memo to Wake County Attorney Scott Warren. “In that case, the court let stand a North Carolina statute that disallowed funding of abortions through the state’s Medicaid program.”
Gott pointed out that Rosie J., like the ACLU memo, argued that Article 1 Section 19 of the N.C. Constitution was being violated. But the court ruled that “To have the state pay for abortion is not a right protected by the North Carolina Constitution and is not a fundamental right.” Gott went on to say that while the ACLU “could (and probably would) file a baseless civil action, such a complaint wound not survive a Motion to Dismiss…”
Now that Wake has reinstated the abortion coverage, the county may face a legitimate lawsuit from Stam, who was the plaintiff in the 1981 case in which the N.C. Supreme Court ruled that “Wake County lacked statutory authority when it appropriated funds to pay for ‘medically unnecessary’ abortions for indigent women,” — the same case that led the county attorney to advise County Manager David Cooke to delete elective abortion from the health plan in the first place.
Ironically, at least one commissioner who voted to reverse the county manager’s decision, had earlier insisted that the board should stay out of the administrative issue. Commissioner Lindy Brown told Indy Week.com, according to its Feb. 10, issue, that the county manager should decide what’s covered by the insurance plan. But when Cooke followed the attorney’s advice and decided to remove the coverage, Brown apparently changed her tune and had no problem voting to force him to decide otherwise.
Monday’s 4-3 vote, along party lines, came after the board heard comments from Planned Parenthood, the American Civil Liberties Union as well as pro-life supporters. Commissioner Joe Bryan made a motion to bring county coverage in line with federal employees’ insurance, which would mean it would cover abortions only in the cases of rape, incest or when the mother’s life is endangered. But his motion was defeated and the board approved instead a resolution reportedly penned by a Planned Parenthood attorney.
According to the Carolina Journal Online, Jack Nichols, a principle founder of Planned Parenthood Health Systems in Raleigh and an attorney for the organization, drafted the resolution. His initial proposal even included a reprimand of County Attorney Scott Warren, which was removed by Commissioner Stan Norwalk before the wording was presented.
Commissioner Paul Coble, who voted against the resolution, told the Carolina Journal that it basically meant “we should ignore the advice of our own attorney and take the advice of the attorney working for the organization (Planned Parenthood) that stands to benefit the most from it.”
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s largest abortion provider.
“This is particularly troubling to see Planned Parenthood’s behind-the-scenes role in the commission’s decision,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “Certainly any individual or organization has the right to speak out during the public comment period, as many did. But we would hope that commissioners would put their constituents’ opinion ahead of that of a business that stands to profit.”
Whether or not a lawsuit is filed, Yeung said she does expect political fallout from Monday’s vote and that her organization, which educates the public on right-to-life issues, will certainly inform them on how their elected officials are voting.
Meanwhile, the effort to remove taxpayer funded elective abortions from county health plans is moving on.
“We continue to hear of counties who have or will be dropping coverage,” Stam said.