How much of the public treasury are Baltimore, Austin, New York, and San Francisco politicians willing to spend to help their friends in the abortion industry shut down pro-life competitors?

This is a question taxpayers may want to ask in light of new information this week showing that the Montgomery County Council spent hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars in a failed effort to harm crisis pregnancy centers — on behalf of NARAL Pro-Choice America.

According to e-mails uncovered in an investigative report by LifeSiteNews, for whom I work as a reporter, NARAL’s Maryland chapter engaged in a straightforward case of crony capitalism in 2009 when it pushed County officials to pass a law requiring pro-life clinics — NARAL’s competitors — to disclose if they do not have a doctor on-site.

Unfortunately for taxpayers in Montgomery County, the Council listened to NARAL, passing the law and spending more than four years defending it. After three defeats, the county was forced to pay $375,000 to lawyers for pro-life clinic Centro Tepeyac. And this doesn’t include the time spent by council staff members on drafting, proposing, and defending the regulation.

And Baltimore may be next. On its website, NARAL’s Maryland chapter brags about how it helped the Baltimore City Council pass Ordinance 09-0406 in 2009. The ordinance, which required all pro-life Baltimore pregnancy clinics to declare whether or not they provide abortions, has been in court for nearly five years, and has received mixed decisions by judges.

The ordinance is currently not enforceable, by court ruling, until a final decision is made — and that could take until 2016 or later. In the meantime, Baltimore taxpayers have to keep shoveling out money to the city’s lawyers and staffers, and in the end could have to pay more than Montgomery County did for the legal fees of various pro-life clinics and other organizations that have sued to overturn the ordinance.

There are other similarities. NARAL’s alleged undercover investigations of crisis pregnancy centers was dismissed by the judge in the Montgomery County case. The judge said that those who claimed that a “misinformation problem” existed “were universally volunteers from a pro-choice organization sent to investigate practices” at pro-life centers.

Likewise, Baltimore — the first municipality in the nation to pass this kind of speech-related ordinance — appeared to rely heavily on NARAL’s 2008 report on alleged deception by pro-life clinics. However, even a cursory glance at the report shows NARAL’s definition of “deceptive” boils down to “anything we disagree with about the realities of abortion.”

It’s not just Maryland taxpayers who are facing enormous costs as their elected officials do the bidding of America’s radical abortion proponents. Last year, an Austin ordinance requiring pro-life clinics to put up signs saying they do not provide medical services was overturned in court — and that ordinance was preceded by a different regulation that a) lost in court, and b) was recommended to be dropped because of litigation costs to the city.

Back on the East Coast, two of New York City’s three anti-pregnancy center regulations were overturned one year ago, while out west the abortion industry’s only clear-cut victory took place in San Francisco.

And, as in Maryland, NARAL was right there, bragging about its role in costing taxpayers money. In San Francisco, they claim to have “worked tirelessly with the San Francisco Board of Supervisors” to pass the city’s ordinance. In Austin and New York, those cities passed their ordinances after “reports” were issued by NARAL about alleged pregnancy center dishonesty.

NARAL’s use of government officials to harm its competitors is not only a case of collusive cronyism — it’s also a clear case of hypocrisy. Right now, NARAL’s Ohio chapter is suing Governor John Kasich, claiming his administration’s relationship with Ohio Right to Life is just a little too cozy.

As the various ordinances continue to work their way through the courts, taxpayers may want to ask whether their dollars are best used at the beck and call of NARAL, rather than for the benefit of the public.

Siggins is the D.C. correspondent for LifeSiteNews, a leading pro-life and pro-family daily news site. He is a co-author of the book America’s Bankrupt Legacy: The Future of the Debt-Paying Generation, to be published in 2015.