A Colorado lawsuit alleging that Planned Parenthood violated the state’s constitution by using taxpayer money to fund abortions has made its way to the state’s highest court. In late December 2016, attorneys for the plaintiff, former Lieutenant Governor Jane Norton, filed a brief laying out their case that the Colorado Court of Appeals, which dismissed the case last year, erred in interpreting the Colorado Constitution.
In 1984, Colorado voters approved an amendment to the state Constitution which explicitly states that taxpayer money shall not be used to fund abortions — directly or indirectly. Colorado Constitution, Article V, Section 50, states:
No public funds 1 shall be used by the State of Colorado, its agencies or political subdivisions to pay or otherwise reimburse, either directly or indirectly, any person, agency or facility for the performance of any induced abortion….
The lawsuit alleges that Planned Parenthood violated this law. According to the aforementioned brief filed December 28, 2016, Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood, Inc. appears to have been “subsidizing its affiliate Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountain Services Corporation,” which does perform abortions. Under this arrangement, attorneys for Norton argue that Planned Parenthood was funneling State Taxpayer Funds to fund abortions, at the very least indirectly – which is a direct violation of the state Constitution.
Following the Court of Appeals’ decision to dismiss the case, attorney Michael J. Norton, who is a former U.S. attorney and former senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, stated:
American taxpayer money should go to fund local community health centers, not to subsidize a scandal-ridden, billion-dollar abortion business like Planned Parenthood. This couldn’t be more true for Coloradans, who adopted a state constitutional provision that expressly prohibits the direct or indirect funding of abortions. The lower court should not have dismissed this case on a technicality because even it agreed that $14 million of taxpayer funds flowed from state government agencies to Planned Parenthood and thus, presumptively, in violation of the voter-approved amendment.
The language of Article V, Section 50, is quite straightforward and clear. Colorado voters decided not to allow their tax dollars to fund abortions, and they expressly included indirect funding in this decision. However, it appears that even with such a law in place, Planned Parenthood believes they can find a way to work around it — and thus far courts have let them get away with it. The Colorado Supreme Court will have the opportunity to reverse the decision of the Colorado Court of Appeals and hold Planned Parenthood accountable for their apparent violation of the state Constitution.