Norton v. Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood, Inc.Annotate this Case
Petitioner Jane Norton sued Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood, Inc. (“RMPP”), Governor John W. Hickenlooper, the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing, and the Executive Director of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (“CDPHE”), for violating section 50 of the Colorado Constitution. Prior to filing this suit as a private citizen, Norton had served as Executive Director of CDPHE. In 2001, while serving in that role, Norton hired an accounting firm to determine whether RMPP was “separately incorporated, maintain[ed] separate facilities, and maintain[ed] financial records which demonstrate[d] financial independence” from Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains Services Corporation (“Services Corp.”), an organization that offered abortion services. The accounting firm determined that RMPP was “subsidizing the rent for Services Corp., an affiliate that performs abortions.” From this information, Norton concluded that whenever CDPHE provided funding to RMPP, it was violating section 50. As a result, Norton terminated the State’s contractual relationship with RMPP and ceased all taxpayer funding of that organization. In 2009, after Norton had left CDPHE, the State resumed making payments to RMPP, prompting Norton to file this lawsuit in which she sought declaratory and injunctive relief against the State officials and pursued a claim of unjust enrichment against RMPP. The issue this case presented for the Colorado Supreme Court’s review centered on whether a complaint alleging a violation of article V, section 50 of the Colorado Constitution based solely on a theory of subsidization states a claim for relief sufficient to overcome a motion to dismiss pursuant to C.R.C.P. 12(b)(5). The Supreme Court held that it did not; instead, to state a claim for relief under section 50, a complaint must allege that the State made a payment to a person or entity - whether directly to that person or entity, or indirectly through an intermediary - for the purpose of compensating them for performing an abortion and that such an abortion was actually performed.