The Colorado Constitution clearly states that public funding of abortion is forbidden, but four separate Colorado state departments are listed as financially supporting the most public advocate for abortion in the state. Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains (PPRM) has received $10 million from the state between fiscal years 2009 and 2012. Upon request, state department receipts documenting the payments have been released to Media Trackers Colorado.
The Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, Department of Education, Justice Department, and Department of Health and Environment have all contributed state funds to Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood of the Rockies recent botched abortion episode with Ayanna Byer raised the question of who was responsible for Planned Parenthood’s state regulated health care. Media Trackers found that Planned Parenthood clinics are not medically regulated by any Colorado state-level authority and thus are not held accountable to the same basic medical standards that other outpatient health clinics are held to in the state. Byer’s abortion was conducted with no anesthetic by a “Dr. John Doe” and has raised serious concerns about Planned Parenthood’s health regulations and patient care.
While the state does not regulate or set medical standards for Planned Parenthood, they have spent millions of dollars financially supporting the organization. The Department of Health Care Policy and Financing has spent nearly $10 million since 2009 on PPRM services. Due to Medicaid rules, the purpose of these expenditures are hidden from public view.
According to the Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, “Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains is an enrolled Medicaid provider. As a provider, they present claims within an electronic system (MMIS) and those claims are approved for payment in the MMIS. This is an electronic system, and there are no documents routinely generated by the system.”
The Department of Health Care Policy and Financing did provide Media Trackers Colorado with ad hoc reports which have been prepared for internal use. These documents reveal claim payments from Planned Parenthood that are eligible for federal financial compensation. PPRM’s expenses in the state of Colorado are for medical equipment, medical tools, and a lengthy list of contraceptive drugs (some of the contraceptive expenses exceed $600,000). Several of these records are from fiscal year 2008-2009, before contraception became part of the political debate.
The Department of Human Services’ receipts for 2012-2013 are for PPRM services such as relationship classes, classes for youth, and a $4,500 expense for a Preparation Conference Honorarium. These programs paid for by the state include topics about contraception, sexually transmitted diseases/infections, pregnancy options, and healthy relationships, among other things. The Department of Human Services has sent nearly $5,000 to Planned Parenthood since fiscal year 2009.
The Justice Department has also used PPRM’s educational services with receipts for classes on contraception, healthy relationships, and "refusal kills." The costs add up to over $1,100 since 2010.
The Department of Health and Environment specifically noted that they do not regulate or license PPRM’s health services although they regulate and license the majority of health clinics in the state of Colorado. The Department has contributed over $3 million to Planned Parenthood since 2009.
While Planned Parenthood and those who advocate on their behalf will no doubt claim that the money spent by the state doesn’t directly fund abortions, critics will note that money is a fungible asset. Taxpayer money sent to Planned Parenthood may not directly fund abortions, but it can be used to offset costs elsewhere within the organization while other funds with fewer or no strings attached can be used to directly subsidize activities like abortion.
Michael J. Norton, a senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, told Media Trackers that abortion clinics, “should not be able to play by a different set of rules than everyone else.” Norton went on to say that, “All women deserve to be protected, but the abortion industry has long fought to make sure that it doesn’t have to maintain the same safety and sanitary standards as other medical centers.” The case of Ayanna Byer’s botched abortion, and subsequent trip to the emergency room, came as no surprise to Norton, who noted that PPRM treated her “life and health with utter disregard.”
Ayanna Byer is currently suing Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains for malpractice. Byer is being represented by Doug Romero, another attorney affiliated with Alliance Defending Freedom.
This post was originally featured at Media Trackers Colorado.