Shortly after a draft of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade was leaked in 2022, the New Mexico City Council decided to show its opposition to the upcoming decision by giving Planned Parenthood a gift of $250,000 of taxpayer money.
That gift was unconstitutional. Taxpayer funds are not a piggybank for politicians to use to support whatever pet projects and political schemes their hearts desire. And the New Mexico Constitution has an anti-donation clause to prevent politicians from using public funds as though they were their own. It requires that New Mexico only give funds to private entities (including nonprofits) under very specific and narrow circumstances, through agreements in which clear, detailed performance metrics are used to maintain accountability.
In press release touting Albuquerque’s gift to Planned Parenthood, Councilwoman Tammy Fiebelkorn boasted: “While extremists attack choice nationwide and the Supreme Court seems poised to take away women’s rights and control of their own bodies, we affirmed our respect and support for women’s reproductive freedoms. I’m proud to have sponsored this amendment to provide vital support for Planned Parenthood.”
The Liberty Justice Center has filed a lawsuit challenging this unconstitutional use of taxpayer funds on behalf of Paul Gessing, a property owner and taxpayer in the City of Albuquerque; Care Net Pregnancy Center of Albuquerque; and Project Defending Life, a Catholic umbrella ministry that sponsors a pregnancy resource center in the City of Albuquerque. Neither of the nonprofits were given an opportunity to apply for the funds provided to Planned Parenthood because the agreement was a council-directed sponsorship—even though these institutes provide many services similar to those offered by Planned Parenthood, including pregnancy-related medical services (free pregnancy testing, free sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing, free parenting and pregnancy counseling and classes).
The lawsuit points out the hypocrisy in the City Council’s decision to donate public funds to Planned Parenthood after it rejected other attempts to give to private charities because that would violate the anti-donation clause.