COLORADO FREEDOM INSTITUTE

President Norton's Testimony to Colorado Legislature on House Bill 17-1099

Regarding Termination of State Funding of Higher Education Institutions that Engage in Trafficking of Human Body Parts | Testimony before the Colorado House State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee

Feb. 15, 2017

My name is Michael J. Norton. I am President and General Counsel of the Colorado Freedom Institute, a nonprofit legal organization that focuses on the protection and promotion of religious freedom and the sanctity of human life. I am also an attorney in the private practice of law with the Denver law firm of Thomas N. Scheffel & Associates, P.C.

I am currently admitted to the United States Supreme Court, the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, the United States District Court for the District of Colorado, the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Iowa, and the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. I am also a member of the bars of the State of Colorado and the Commonwealth of Virginia. 

From 1988 to 1993, having been appointed by President Ronald Reagan, I was privileged to serve as Colorado’s United States Attorney. In that capacity, I served as the chief federal law enforcement officer for the State of Colorado and directed the United States Department of Justice’s criminal and civil justice priorities, including numerous federal criminal investigations and prosecutions.

HB 17-1099

HB 17-1099 would require higher education institutions that receive State funding to report to the Joint Budget Committee by December 1 of each year whether the institution engaged, directly or indirectly, in the purchase or trafficking of aborted human body parts in the previous year. If an institution did engage in the purchase or trafficking of aborted human body parts, HB 17-1099 would require that the General Assembly not, in the next fiscal year, appropriate any State funds to that university.

HB 17-1099 is a proper response by a civilized society to the disclosures in 2015 and 2016 videos released by the Center for Medical Progress (“CMP”) that Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains was harvesting and selling the lungs, hearts, brains, or other organs of unborn babies to, among others, the University of Colorado and Colorado State University.

No matter how one stands on the issue of abortion, those CMP videos did not simply create a generalized queasiness at surgery and blood, they depicted gross, abhorrent, and evil conduct that should not be allowed to stand unaddressed in our State. Those who have taken time to view these videos know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this should not be happening in our State.

No one who has viewed these videos can come away thinking that Planned Parenthood’s harvesting and selling of the body parts of aborted unborn babies, aided and abetted, by the University of Colorado and Colorado State University, should be permitted in our State. No one who has viewed these videos believes that, in Colorado, we should allow the body parts of aborted babies to be trafficked in the market place as though they were agricultural commodities.

Current Colorado Law

 In 2000, several legislators in Colorado recognized the depravity associated with the harvesting and sale of body parts of aborted babies and passed legislation to make such conduct illegal in Colorado. That legislation was codified as C.R.S. § 25-2-111.5: “Transfer of fetal tissue from induced termination of pregnancy.”

The legislative declaration of C.R.S. § 25-2-111.5 states: “The general assembly determines and declares that the acquisition, receipt, or other transfer of human fetal tissue for valuable consideration affects intrastate commerce and is not in the public interest of the residents of Colorado. Therefore, the general assembly finds, determines, and declares that the exchange for valuable consideration of human fetal tissue should be prohibited.” Notably, under Colorado law, “valuable consideration” expressly includes “[a]ny agreement to purchase fetal tissue for a profit.” C.R.S. § 25-2-111.5 (2)(IV).

Current Federal Law

Federal law prohibits the harvesting and trafficking of fetal body parts for profit, and provides for criminal penalties for those who knowingly ignore the law. 42 U.S.C. § 289g-2. The law, passed by a Democratic-controlled House and Senate and signed by President Clinton in 1993, has, as its central tenet, the principle that there will be no profit from the harvesting and use of fetal tissue.

Thus, this law expressly states that it is unlawful for any person to “knowingly acquire, receive, or otherwise transfer any human fetal tissue for valuable consideration if the transfer affects interstate commerce.”[1] 42 U.S.C. § 289g-2(a). It is further unlawful “for any person to solicit or knowingly acquire, receive, or accept a donation of human fetal tissue for the purpose of transplantation of such tissue into another person if the donation affects interstate commerce, the tissue will be or is obtained pursuant to an induced abortion, and . . . the person who solicits or knowingly acquires, receives, or accepts the donation has provided valuable consideration[2] for the costs associated with such abortion.” 42 U.S.C. § 289g-2(b)(3). Conviction of this crime carries with it a penalty of up to ten years in prison and a fine of up to $500,000.

Federal law also establishes substantial limitations on the use of fetal tissue for “research.”  42 U.S.C. § 289g-1. The informed consent of the mother of the unborn child is required. 42 U.S.C. § 289g-1(b). The law also prohibits any “alteration of the timing, method, or procedures used to terminate the pregnancy … solely for the purposes of obtaining the tissue.” 42 U.S.C. § 289g-1(c)(4).

Denver’s Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains
Caught on Video Trafficking Aborted Baby Body Parts

In 2015, videos released by the Center for Medical Progress[3] disclosed that Denver’s Planned Parenthood was making a profit by harvesting and trafficking the hearts, brains, lungs, eyes and livers of babies whose lives Planned Parenthood has ended by abortion. These gruesome revelations came from a series of videos released by an organization called the Center for Medical Progress. The videos demonstrated that affiliates of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, including Denver’s Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, had been actively engaged in harvesting and trafficking, for profit, body parts of babies whose lives Planned Parenthood has ended by abortion.

In the first video released by the Center for Medical Progress, Planned Parenthood Federation of America executive Deborah Nucatola was shown in a Los Angeles restaurant describing over lunch how Planned Parenthood affiliates such as Denver’s Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains facilitated trafficking in the organs of aborted unborn babies, all while enjoying her salad and sipping wine. Nucatola discussed prices and confessed that Planned Parenthood’s abortionists were happy to alter abortion procedures to further the organ harvesting and trafficking program. One such way, she related, was by using an ultrasound where ordinarily it would not be used to prevent damage to valuable organs of aborted babies.

In her own words, Nucatola can be heard saying:

So then you’re just kind of cognizant of where you put your graspers, you try to intentionally go above and below the thorax, so that, you know, we’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m going to basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact. And with the calvarium, in general, some people will actually try to change the presentation so that it’s not vertex, because when it’s vertex presentation, you never have enough dilation at the beginning of the case, unless you have real, huge amount of dilation to deliver an intact calvarium.[4]

To get the full impact of Nucatola’s statements, it is necessary to understand the terminology used. “Calvarium” is medical jargon for “head.” “Vertex presentation” means head-first delivery, i.e., the normal presentation. What Nucatola is referring to is repositioning the baby in the womb to enable more effective organ harvesting by Planned Parenthood abortionists. In fact, this is also the repositioning which occurs in the barbaric and unlawful procedure known as “partial-birth” abortions.

These videos have exposed the ghoulish underbelly of Planned Parenthood. In the video taken at Denver’s Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, Inc., released by the Center for Medical Progress on July 30, 2015, Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood’s vice president and medical director, Savita Ginde was captured saying, “[We’d] have to do a little bit of training with the providers on making sure that they don’t crush” aborted babies’ organs.[5]

Denver’s Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains was caught red-handed in engaging in a gross, disgusting, barbaric and probably illegal practice. Later, Planned Parenthood’s CEO Cecile Richards, in a virtual admission of guilt, announced that Planned Parenthood affiliates would no longer accept any “reimbursement” for sales of fetal tissue. Not that Planned Parenthood has done anything illegal, said Richards, but Planned Parenthood is going to stop taking money for baby body parts.

No one really knows whether Denver’s Planned Parenthood has stopped taking money for trafficking in harvested baby parts. Powerful government allies, including allies here in Colorado and in this General Assembly, have so far shielded Planned Parenthood from any accountability for this gruesome conduct.

The University of Colorado and Colorado
State University Have Purchased Baby Body Parts

We know that at least two of Colorado’s higher education institutions – the University of Colorado and Colorado State University – have, in the past used State taxpayer funds to purchase lungs, hearts, brains, or other organs of unborn babies.

As the attached February 16, 2016 letter from CU Chancellor Elliman and the July 23, 2015 letter from CSU President Tony Frank reveal, these State universities acknowledge that they aid and abet Planned Parenthood’s illegal conduct by purchasing aborted baby parts. They simply cannot bring themselves to do the right thing – a decision the vast majority of Coloradans know to be right – and pledge to make no further purchases of the lungs, hearts, brains, or other organs of unborn babies whose lives have been terminated by abortion.

I am aware that Representative Leonard has offered to provide the Committee with copies of invoices showing purchases by both CU and CSU of aborted baby body parts. If it would be of any value to the Committee, I will also provide copies of such invoices.   

No Colorado Official Takes Responsibility
For the Enforcement of Current Colorado law

Unfortunately, to date, no Colorado Executive Branch agency has taken any responsibility for the enforcement of current Colorado law.

When pressed to investigate the patently illegal conduct of Denver’s Planned Parenthood depicted in the Center for Medical Progress videos, the Colorado Attorney General acknowledged[6] that she was “closely monitor[ing] developments related to this controversy.” Nevertheless, the Attorney General contended that, unless she was specifically requested by the Governor to investigate this “controversy,” she “lack[ed] authority to enforce” the provisions of C.R.S. 25-2-111.5.

Of course the Governor, ever the friend and protector of Denver’s Planned Parenthood, has not bothered to ask the Attorney General to investigate this “controversy.” And, it cannot be expected that he ever will.

Likewise, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, an agency under Governor Hickenlooper’s authority, has stonewalled requests that it investigate these gruesome practices by Denver’s Planned Parenthood. It is not known whether any official of the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has even bothered to view the Center for Medical Progress videos, including the video depicting the patently illegal conduct by Denver’s Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. Astonishingly, however, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment has taken the position that “there is no credible evidence of wrongdoing” by Denver’s Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains.

The United States Congress Has Acted and
Referred Several Abortionists, including Planned Parenthood,
For Criminal Prosecution
       

In April 2016, by virtue of my law enforcement experience, I was asked to testify before the Select Committee on Infant Lives of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Energy and Commerce Committee about its investigation of potential violations of 42 U.S.C. 289g-2. I advised the Select Panel that, in my opinion, there was probable cause to believe that this statute had been violated and that there should be an aggressive investigation and, should the facts support it, the prosecution of these criminal violations by appropriate federal criminal justice authorities. It was my view and that of my former Justice Department colleagues who testified at that hearing that “a competent, ethical federal prosecutor could establish probable cause that both the abortion clinics and the procurement business violated the statute (42 U.S.C. § 289g-2), aided and abetted one another in violating the statute (18 U.S.C. § 2), and likely conspired together to violate the statute (18 U.S.C. § 371).”

In December 2016, the U.S. House Select Committee and the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee forwarded to federal prosecutors alleged criminal charges against Planned Parenthood affiliates and medical laboratories doing business with Planned Parenthood. These referrals maintain that Planned Parenthood and its business agents have been engaged in the illegal sale of the body parts of aborted preborn children.

Both the Chair of the U.S. House Select Committee, Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, and the chair of and the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley of Iowa, expressed dismay at the lack of enforcement by federal officials of laws banning the for-profit sale of the hearts, lungs, livers, and brains of aborted children. Senator Grassley added, “With no executive branch oversight and no meaningful risk of prosecution, the companies involved in transferring fetal tissue have been free to receive substantial payments with impunity. Unless there is a renewed commitment by everyone involved against commercializing the trade in aborted fetal body parts for profit, then the problem is likely to continue.”

Failure to Pass this Bill
Amounts to Protecting a Criminal Enterprise

There is enough evidence, already presented to the Governor and to the Attorney General, to demonstrate that there is probable cause to believe that Planned Parenthood has violated federal and Colorado statutes. Indeed, Planned Parenthood is a criminal, corrupt organization under criminal investigation in several states.

Colorado should be one of those states. There is enough evidence to demonstrate that Colorado’s higher education institutions – University of Colorado and Colorado State University – have aided and abetted Planned Parenthood in the violation of these statutes by knowingly buying aborted baby body parts.

And yet not one Colorado official has had the courage to investigate these potential crimes. That is because Planned Parenthood is a powerful partisan political organization that has donated millions of dollars to pro-abortion politicians, perhaps even some of you on this Committee.

Some of those politicians do all they can to protect this corrupt, criminal enterprise. You should criminalize the sale or donation of aborted baby body parts.

But, until you do, passage of HB 17-1099 to defund any Colorado higher education institutions that can’t stop itself from buying the lungs, hearts, brains, or other organs of unborn babies whose lives have been terminated by abortion is a necessary and right first step.

You all know the Edmund Burke quote: “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men [and women] do nothing.” I implore you to not promote evil and bring shame yourself and our State by opposing this bill.

     Thank you.

FOOTNOTES

 [1] “Interstate commerce” has been construed extremely broad by the U.S. Department of Justice. See, e.g., Jonathan H. Adler, “How the Justice Department is using the Commerce Clause to criminalize forcible beard cutting as a hate crime,” The Washington Post, June 24, 2014; available at
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2014/06/24/how-the-justice-department-is-using-the-commerce-clause-to-criminalize-forcible-beard-cutting-as-a-federal-hate-crime/.

[2] “Valuable consideration” does not, by definition, “include reasonable payments associated with the transportation, implantation, processing, preservation, quality control, or storage of human fetal tissue.” 42 U.S.C. § 289g-2 (e)(3).

[3] These videos may be accessed at the Center for Medical Progress’s website at   http://www.centerformedicalprogress.org/cmp/investigative-footage/

[4] Id., Transcript, July 25, 2013, p. 11.

[5] Center for Medical Progress, Transcript, April 2, 2015, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, Inc., p. 14.

[6] Attorney General Coffman’s October 15, 2015 letter expressing her view that her department lacks legal authority to investigate the harvesting and trafficking of the body parts of aborted babies is attached.