The Alliance Defense Fund, a pro-life legal group, filed papers with the Colorado Supreme Court Friday asking it to review a dismissal of a lawsuit challenging $18 million in what it calls illegal contracts the Planned Parenthood abortion business entered into with the state.
ADF attorneys have appealed the decision of a Colorado court to dismiss the suit.
The contracts were awarded last year to Planned Parenthood affiliate and a Boulder-based late-term abortion practitioner, Warren Hearn.
“The democratic process and the rule of law should not be sacrificed for the sake of benefiting Planned Parenthood’s bottom line,” said lead counsel Barry Arrington. “We are confident that the Colorado Supreme Court will acknowledge that the former governor and other state officials were not at liberty to ignore the will of the people on this matter. Colorado voters already decided the issue when they amended the state constitution to prohibit tax dollar subsidies to abortion providers. It is fundamentally wrong, particularly in tight budget times, for taxpayer dollars to be used to fund abortions.”
In 1984, Colorado voters approved the Abortion Funding Prohibition Amendment to the Colorado Constitution, prohibiting the direct or indirect public funding of abortion. In 1986, voters rejected an initiative to repeal the amendment.
The Colorado Department of Public Health audited Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood and its affiliate Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains Services Corporation in 2001 and subsequently ended funding to them after finding that state funds were indirectly subsidizing their abortion operations.
Later, however, under Gov. Bill Ritter and Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment Executive Director Jim Martin, the department disregarded the ruling and awarded five funding contracts to Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains Services Corporation and Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center–both of which provide abortions–claiming that only federal funds, not state funds, were being used. The lawsuit, filed in 2008 on behalf of Colorado taxpayer Mark Hotaling, contends that the contracts use state taxpayer funds to subsidize abortion in violation of the state constitution.
The petition in Hotaling v. Hickenlooper asks the Colorado Supreme Court to review the lawsuit, dismissed by the Colorado Court of Appeals, and determine that Hotaling has standing to challenge the state’s award of the contracts and that doing so violated the Colorado Constitution. The Court of Appeals ruled that state taxpayers do not have standing to challenge federal funds for abortion.
“On two separate occasions, the people of Colorado strongly expressed that no taxpayer should be forced to pay for a procedure that takes innocent human life. That’s why they amended the state constitution to put a stop to it,” said ADF Senior Counsel Michael J. Norton. “This is a simple matter of the rule of law. Government officials cannot circumvent the Colorado constitution simply because they prefer to impose public funding for abortion on demand and treat innocent life as a commodity by funding Planned Parenthood’s multi-million-dollar abortion industry.”
ADF is complaining that, under Ritter and Martin, the department disregarded the ruling and, claiming to be using federal funds instead of state funds, awarded five funding contracts to Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains Services Corporation and Boulder Valley Women’s Health Center.
Ritter came under fire from Archbishop Charles Chaput for claming to be pro-life but funding the nation’s biggest abortion business.
“The people of Colorado felt strongly that no taxpayer should be forced to pay for a procedure that takes innocent human life. That’s why they amended the state constitution to put a stop to it,” ADF Senior Legal Counsel Steven H. Aden told LifeNews.com.
“This is a simple matter of the rule of law. Government officials cannot circumvent this amendment simply because they prefer to impose public funding for abortion on demand,” he added.
Playing on Governor Ritter’s State of the State comments that he wanted to promote health care to create “a better future for our children and our children’s children,” Chaput said it’s hard to imagine that without children.
“Planned Parenthood specializes in the business of preventing them,” he wrote in the Catholic paper.
The initial decision to cut funding ultimately cost Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, a $16 million organization, $320,000 in state funds. The abortion business argued that money for abortions and family planning were separate but an independent audit disputed those claims.