Residents sue Philadelphia for donating tax dollars to group funding abortions

Traffic moves in downtown Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in this undated file photo taken from the "Rocky Steps" at the Philadelphia Museum of Art of City Hall. | Unsplash/Charl Folscher

A nonprofit law firm is representing Philadelphia residents in a lawsuit against the city and its mayor for donating half a million in tax dollars to a group that provides financial assistance to women seeking abortions. 

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday by Thomas More Society attorneys on behalf of Charles P. Kuhar, Sr., and Theresa M. Kuhar in the County of Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. 

"Defendants' actions are in direct violation of Pennsylvania's prohibition against the use of public funds appropriated by the Commonwealth for the performance of abortion," the lawsuit reads.

As noted in the complaint, Pennsylvania law declares that "no Commonwealth funds and no Federal funds which are appropriated by the Commonwealth shall be expended by any State or local government agency for the performance of abortion."

Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, Philadelphia Treasurer Jacqueline Dunn and Philadelphia Controller Rebecca Rhynhart are named as defendants. The complaint asks the court to declare that the city's recent allocation of $500,000 to the Abortion Liberation Fund of Pennsylvania is illegal and block state lawmakers from providing the group with taxpayer money. 

"The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania prohibits its funds from being spent on abortion, with rare exceptions," Thomas More Society special counsel Thomas Breth asserted in a Wednesday statement.

"Yet the mayor of Philadelphia is giving an unrestricted half million dollars to an organization for the expressed purpose of funding abortions," Breth added. "This move by the mayor is contrary to state law, and our clients intend to stop it." 

The Philadelphia mayor's office did not immediately respond to The Christian Post's request for comment. 

Kenney announced on Aug. 4 that the city was transferring half a million dollars to the Abortion Liberation Fund of Pennsylvania. Kenney pointed to the U.S. Supreme Court's June 24 decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 ruling that legalized abortion nationwide, as one of the reasons behind the donation.

Kenney described the Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization ruling, which determined that the Constitution did not contain a right to abortion and individual states have the authority to decide the legality of the procedure, as "shameful."

In the absence of Roe, Pennsylvania will continue to enforce its ban on abortions after 24 weeks gestation. The mayor indicated that donating to the abortion nonprofit will address concerns about the ability of low-income women to access legal abortion in Philadelphia. 

"Abortion is healthcare no matter where you live," Kenney asserted in a statement. "In Philadelphia it is legal, but sadly that does not mean it is accessible for everyone. Providing financial support for people seeking abortions is one of the ways we will support Philadelphians in their fundamental right to bodily autonomy." 

The mayor praised the Abortion Liberation Fund for an "impressive history of dismantling barriers to abortion and reproductive justice."

"[W]e are proud to support their work and the people they serve with this historic and unprecedented commitment of funding," he concluded. 

The group was founded in 1985, the year Pennsylvania cut off Medicaid funding for abortion. Since its establishment, the Abortion Liberation Fund has covered the expenses of 35,000 women seeking an abortion. In addition to providing financial assistance, the group covers women's travel and lodging expenses. 

"We support individuals always by working to expand and equalize access to abortion through lifting the insurance bans and eliminating other barriers," the nonprofit states on its website

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