by Maria Vitale Gallagher
LifeNews.com Staff Writer
December 10, 2004
Upper Merion, PA (LifeNews.com) — A Pennsylvania community has settled a federal civil rights lawsuit filed by an abortion operation. Upper Merion township will pay $800,000 to the abortion facility over a period of years.
The township had closed down the facility, contending that it violated local zoning regulations. But the abortion facility fired back with a suit, claiming that the decision violated the abortion center’s civil rights.
In the settlement, the township admitted no liability or wrongdoing.
Associates in Obstetrics and Gynecology, which operates under the name of American Women’s Services, filed the civil rights suit in April of 2003.
In the lawsuit, the abortion facility charged that township officials violated the center’s constitutional right to provide abortions by selectively enforcing the zoning ordinance.
Township officials had said that zoning regulations required any clinic to operate on three acres of land. The Upper Merion abortion center operated on a one-acre plot.
The lawsuit led to a trial, but after only a day of testimony, the two sides reached agreement.
The township, however, had won victories in state courts, where judges ruled that township officials had correctly interpreted zoning ordinances. In March of last year, a Montgomery County judge granted the township an injunction, forcing the abortion center to close.
The abortion business is owned by Steve Brigham, who has a long record of legal and safety violations. In fact, Brigham was forced to give up his medical license in Pennsylvania and had his license taken away in other states.
Still, Brigham continues to operate a chain of abortion centers across the Eastern seaboard.
Last year, Tim Broderick, a Pennsylvania pro-life advocate familiar with Brigham’s history, told LifeNews.com, "Sooner or later, Brigham must be made to realize that he is not above the law just because he’s an abortionist."