Lawsuit Claims CO Officials Illegally Authorized $14 Million to Planned Parenthood
The former head of Colorado’s Department of Public Health and the Environment (CDPHE) has filed a lawsuit against both her former agency and Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood. The suit alleges that CDPHE officials funneled $14 million in payments to the abortion industry giant in violation of the state constitution which bans both direct and indirect subsidies to abortion providers.
LifeSiteNews reported Monday that Jane Norton is asking the court to bar the state from funding Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood in violation of both the state constitution, which was amended by popular vote in 1984, and her own order banning payments to the organization which, she states, her successors have chosen to ignore.
Norton also is asking the court to order Planned Parenthood to pay back the approximately $14 million in public funds it has allegedly received since 2009.
The lawsuit names Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D), Susan Birch, executive director of the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, and Larry Wolk, current executive director of the CDPHE, as defendants.
Norton, who was appointed executive director of the CDPHE in 2001 by then-Gov. Bill Owens (R), presided over an investigation and public defunding of Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood in the early 2000s. She requested an independent audit to investigate whether her agency’s ongoing payments to the abortion organization were in violation of the state’s constitution.
Norton is represented by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF).
“Public officials should respect the law and the democratic process rather than ignore both to fill Planned Parenthood’s bank account,” said senior counsel Michael J. Norton, who is also Jane Norton’s husband.
“Colorado voters already decided the issue when they amended the state constitution to prohibit tax-dollar subsidies to abortionists,” Norton added. “State records clearly show that state officials have provided both federal and state taxpayer funds to Planned Parenthood in clear violation of the state constitution.”
In 2003, Jane Norton left the CDPHE to become Colorado’s Lieutenant Governor, but the ban on funding to Planned Parenthood remained in place. By 2009, a new Democrat governor was in office, as was new leadership in the CDPHE. Despite the state constitution’s ban on payments to abortion providers, the new executive director of CDPHE and his staff reinstated the contract with Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood.
According to public records requested by Norton and submitted as evidence in her lawsuit, in addition to the roughly $14 million in subsidies that Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood has received since 2009, the amount per year that the abortion giant receives from the state has been increasing as well, from a low of $1.9 million in 2009 to a high of $3.5 million in 2013.