New Hampshire Right to Life v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Description:  New Hampshire Right to Life seeks the public release of information under the Freedom of Information Act about a Title X “Family Planning” grant the Department of Health and Human Services awarded to Planned Parenthood of New England in 2011. The Freedom of Information Act requires government to disclose information for public scrutiny unless one of nine statutory exemptions applies. HHS has continued to refuse to provide certain grant documents on the grounds that they might affect Planned Parenthood’s “competitive position” if it faces a commercial grant competitor in the future. HHS also refused to produce information about its own debates about how to sell the controversial decision to the public.


US Supreme Court declines to tackle secrecy surrounding Planned Parenthood grants

ADF, allied attorney represent NH pro-life group in challenge to HHS over documents it won’t release to protect abortion giant’s ‘competitive position’
Monday, November 16, 2015

Attorney sound bite:  Casey Mattox

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court declined Monday to take up a case related to certain Planned Parenthood grant documents that the Obama administration is keeping secret. The documents specifically pertain to a non-competitive grant the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded directly to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England in 2011 without going through state approval or standard protocols and despite the fact that the state decided not to fund Planned Parenthood that year.

HHS says it can’t release the documents because doing so might affect Planned Parenthood’s “competitive position” if it faces a commercial grant competitor in the future. HHS also refused to produce information about its own debates over how to sell the controversial decision to the public. ADF attorneys and allied attorney Michael Tierney represent New Hampshire Right to Life in New Hampshire Right to Life v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a lawsuit that has sought public release of the information under the Freedom of Information Act.

“Americans deserve to know if their tax money is being funneled to groups that are misusing it,” said Tierney, one of more than 2,600 private attorneys allied with ADF. “We had hoped the U.S. Supreme Court would consider this case, which would have addressed whether the government can continue to veil its support for Planned Parenthood. HHS is withholding documents that are critical in evaluating apparently illegal funding that the administration provided to the abortion giant despite New Hampshire’s grave concerns and without following normal protocols. We are pleased, however, that the district court ruled in our favor on the vast majority of other documents we requested.”

In June 2011, New Hampshire chose not to award a Title X subgrant to Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, in part because of concerns that the affiliate was improperly using the funds to subsidize its abortion business and was not being transparent about its activities. HHS responded by providing Planned Parenthood a controversial sole-source, non-competitive, Title X “family planning” replacement grant. When New Hampshire Right to Life sought documents concerning the grant, HHS stonewalled until a federal court order required it to produce some, but not all, requested information about the grant.

In August, ADF replied on behalf of New Hampshire Right to Life to the administration’s arguments against Supreme Court review of the case and pointed out that the Freedom of Information Act “requires ‘full agency disclosure unless information is exempted under clearly delineated statutory language….’”

In a dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas, joined by Justice Antonin Scalia, argued that the high court should have reviewed the case: “The First Circuit’s decision warrants review. It perpetuates an unsupported interpretation of an important federal statute and further muddies an already amorphous test.”

“Americans are already being forced to fund Planned Parenthood, which has become the subject of numerous investigations, with more than $500 million in taxpayer dollars annually,” said ADF Senior Counsel Casey Mattox. “At the very least, the government must be transparent about this money.”

New Hampshire’s Executive Council recently again voted to eliminate state funding for Planned Parenthood. (#DefundPP)
  • Pronunciation guide: Tierney (TEER'-nee)

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Additional resources: New Hampshire Right to Life v. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Previous news releases:

  • 2015-08-10: HHS continues to defend secrecy surrounding Planned Parenthood grants at US Supreme Court
  • 2015-04-22: NH pro-life group asks Supreme Court to stop HHS stonewalling protecting Planned Parenthood
  • 2012-03-14: Crony stonewall crumbles: Court order prompts release of Planned Parenthood grant application in NH
  • 2012-02-17: ADF to White House: Time’s up on NH Planned Parenthood records

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