Alliance Defending Freedom has filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to consider whether the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services can withhold from public documents information about a grant it awarded to Planned Parenthood of New England.
In February, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 1st Circuit permitted HHS to shield information about the grant and the department’s discussions on how to portray the controversial grant to the public. ADF attorneys and allied attorney Michael Tierney represent New Hampshire Right to Life in New Hampshire Right to Life v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a lawsuit that seeks the public release of information under the Freedom of Information Act about a Title X “Family Planning” grant HHS awarded to Planned Parenthood of New England in 2011.
“Americans deserve to know how the government spends their hard-earned tax money and if that money is being funneled to groups that are misusing it,” said Tierney, one of nearly 2,500 private attorneys allied with ADF. “The government is withholding documents that are critical in assessing this illegal funding, which the Obama administration granted without state approval or standard protocol.”
The Freedom of Information Act requires government to disclose information for public scrutiny unless one of nine statutory exemptions applies.
In June 2011, New Hampshire chose not to award a Title X subgrant to Planned Parenthood, in part because of concerns that PPNNE was improperly using the funds to subsidize its abortion business and a lack of transparency. HHS responded by providing PPNNE a controversial sole source non-competitive replacement grant. When New Hampshire Right to Life sought documents concerning the grant, HHS stonewalled until a federal court order required it to produce some information about the grant.
HHS has continued to refuse to provide certain grant documents on the grounds that they might affect Planned Parenthood’s “competitive position” if it faces a commercial grant competitor in the future. HHS also refused to produce information about its own debates about how to sell the controversial decision to the public.
“Americans are already being forced to fund Planned Parenthood to the tune of more than $500 million in taxpayer dollars annually,” said ADF Senior Counsel Casey Mattox. “Government can at least be transparent about this money. Since Planned Parenthood is already the subject of repeated state and federal audits and whistleblower lawsuits for waste, abuse, and potential fraud of taxpayer dollars, the government should comply with the law and come clean about the funding.”