Planned Parenthood: Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Alleging State Dollars Used for Abortions

A judge has thrown out a lawsuit alleging that Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains was using state funds to provide abortions. The lawsuit was filed by former Colorado lieutenant governor (and longtime Planned Parenthood foe) Jane Norton. It accused Planned Parenthood of violating Colorado's Abortion Funding Prohibition Amendment by subsidizing the rent of a separate corporation that provides abortions.

But Denver County District Court Judge Andrew McCallin found Norton failed to show that state funds paid for any actual abortions, and he dismissed the lawsuit.

See also: Planned Parenthood's scheme to bust abortion protesters

Norton is being represented by her husband, Michael Norton, senior counsel for the pro-life Alliance Defending Freedom. In a statement e-mailed to Westword, Michael Norton says the group will likely appeal the judge's decision. Here's the full statement:
No one is above the law, including Colorado politicians who are violating our state's constitution by continuing to fund Planned Parenthood's abortion business with state taxpayer dollars. The State of Colorado even acknowledges that about $1.4 million of state taxpayer dollars flowed from Colorado government agencies through Planned Parenthood to its abortion affiliate. The Denver court seems to have agreed with that fact and yet granted motions to dismiss based on a technicality. Alliance Defending Freedom will likely appeal the Denver court's decision.
The lawsuit alleged that Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains Services Corporation, which provides "non-therapeutic abortions," is receiving subsidized rent from Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, which is partly funded with state dollars. Norton based her subsidy allegation on a 2001 audit of Planned Parenthood. She argued that the subsidized rent allows Services Corporation to provide more abortions than it could were it not receiving a rent subsidy.

But McCallin noted that "No evidence...was submitted in this regard." Because Norton failed to prove that state funds paid for any specific abortions, he dismissed the lawsuit. "The Court holds that the Amendment requires the public funds to have a nexus to the performance of an abortion," McCallin wrote in his order.

Cathy Alderman, the vice president of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, says the organization is pleased by the judge's ruling -- but understands that the legal fight likely isn't over. "It's just this ongoing attack," Alderman says of the lawsuits filed by Planned Parenthood's opponents, "and ultimately we know that in their perfect world, they'd ban access to abortion services in all instances including rape, incest and the health of the pregnant woman. They feel they need to chip away at our resources, our time and our name recognition in whatever way they can."

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Melanie Asmar is a staff writer for Westword. She joined the paper in 2009 and has won awards for her stories about education, immigration and epic legal battles. Got a tip? She'd love to hear it.
Contact: Melanie Asmar