(The Albuquerque Journal)—Last year, after the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe v. Wade was leaked, the Albuquerque City Council rushed to donate $250,000 in taxpayer money to Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, New Mexico’s regional affiliate of the nation’s largest abortion provider. Councilwoman Tammy Fiebelkorn explained that she sponsored the donation “to provide vital support for Planned Parenthood.”
There was just one problem: the donation was illegal. The New Mexico Constitution provides that no municipality “shall directly or indirectly … make any donation to or in aid of any person, association or public or private corporation.” That is to say, the government should not hand out taxpayers’ cash to their political allies — or anyone else for that matter.
But the City of Albuquerque decided to hand over a check to Planned Parenthood regardless of the law. To make matters worse, the agreement simply requires Planned Parenthood to produce three “outputs,” which are so minimal that they are essentially meaningless, and can be easily accomplished through Planned Parenthood’s existing operations.
The first output requires Planned Parenthood to “offer health care services to New Mexican residents,” and report the number of people served. There is no minimum number of people Planned Parenthood must serve, nor is the disbursement of funds tied to such a number — the city will cover the salaries regardless.
Second, Planned Parenthood must “expand health equity by promoting equitable access to services and care” and “track progress in expanding health equity, by disaggregating data” about the demographics of the people they serve. Meaning: they simply have to keep track of the data they already collect.
Finally, Planned Parenthood must “provide patient education to 8,000 participants regarding healthy choices on sexuality and parenting” and report it. There are no specifics on curriculum, format, or duration to ensure that this education actually benefits patients. Planned Parenthood could set up a webpage that gets 8,000 hits or hand out 8,000 pamphlets.
This is all a sham — one that is unbecoming of public officials vested with the public trust and responsibility to spend taxpayers’ money. That is why the Liberty Justice Center has taken the city and Planned Parenthood to court. Our clients are an Albuquerque taxpayer who objects to the giving away of his money, and a pregnancy resource center that provides many of the same services as Planned Parenthood, but was never given an opportunity to compete for these funds on an equal basis with the politically connected.
New Mexico’s anti-donation clause is a bulwark against the shenanigans that have plagued other states, where working-class taxpayers subsidize real estate developers and buy sports stadiums for billionaires. Americans might never agree about abortion, but perhaps we can agree that taxpayers should not foot the bill for private companies that have made friends with the right politicians.
Reilly Stephens is Counsel at the Liberty Justice Center.
Read the article in the Albuquerque Journal here.