Republican state Sen. Greg Brophy incorrectly asserted in a gubernatorial debate Tuesday that the state is violating the constitution by paying for abortions and "that needs to stop."
The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment does not provide funding for abortions, spokesman Mark Salley said.
Asked Wednesday for proof of his claim, Brophy backpedaled.
"We'll check and verify that, and if not's true, then we don't have to do anything (to stop it)," the Wray farmer said.
Colorado voters in the 1980s banned using state money to pay for abortions. The state still must comply with federal law, which requires abortion coverage for Medicaid patients in instances of rape, incest and when the life of the mother is at stake.
When pressed about this Tuesday, Brophy claimed that Planned Parenthood's "abortion clinic" isn't required to "account for the monies they get." But officials at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and Planned Parenthood insist that's not the case. Bartels reports on a flap from 1999 over sublet space within Planned Parenthood's facilities, which led to then-Gov. Bill Owens' administration slapping punitive restrictions on Planned Parenthood. Owens' successor, pro-life Democrat Bill Ritter, undid those sanctions, but Planned Parenthood never applied for the additional money they then could have–because it wasn't available.
Bottom line: Bartels does a great job debunking an critical talking point for lots of pro-life Republicans. And that's what we really want to add here: the persistent and false claim that Colorado taxpayer dollars "fund abortions" is a much bigger problem than Greg Brophy. Colorado Right to Life's candidate questionnaire asserts without basis that the prohibition on public abortion funding in the Colorado constitution has "mostly been ignored." Last year, Sen. Owen Hill introduced Senate Bill 13-066, the "Taxpayer Abortion Separation Act," to "force compliance" with the state constitution's prohibition of public money for abortion. In 2011, every male Republican Colorado Senator sponsored a similar amendment to the state budget. Here's what fellow Republican Sen. Nancy Spence had to say in response to them, as reported by Patrick Malone at the Pueblo Chieftain:
“My concern about defunding Planned Parenthood is that it provides good family planning services and health services to women,” Spence said. “I agree that public funds should not be used for abortion, but if abortion is part of Planned Parenthood and you can’t separate out the funds that they use for abortion services versus family planning and women’s health services, then I have to come down on the side of Planned Parenthood. [Pols emphasis] It’s too important for low-income women in this state not to have access to that kind of information, when I think it’s an appropriate use for public money.”
It's very easy to agree with Sen. Spence, especially now that you know it was never a real issue anyway. And with that, perhaps this long-cherished but bogus talking point can finally be put to bed? Sadly, don't count on it.