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Planned Parenthood Helped Edit Press Release from Colo. Sec. of State's Office

05-25-2019

Planned Parenthood officials helped edit a press release from the Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold's office before it was sent out.

KUSA-TV reports a draft of the release, which also called for a boycott of Alabama over the state's new abortion law, was sent to Planned Parenthood for suggestions and edits.

Around two hours before it was released, Griswold's communications director, Serena Woods, emailed a copy of the release to Whitney Phillips and Jack Teter. Phillips is the vice president of communications for Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains and Teter is Planned Parenthood's political director.

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According to emails obtained by KUSA-TV, Woods wrote Phillips and Teter:

"Whitney & Jack, Draft of what we are thinking attached. LMK thoughts/edits. If you could turn around as quickly as possible that would be great because SOS wants to move fast. Thanks, Serena."

Phillips then responded to the email.  

"Thanks Serena, I believe our CEO is going to call the Secretary and share some additional feedback. In the meantime, my feedback on the media release is attached. It feels to me the Election Center part is a little inside baseball for most folks and the travel authorization is a little more digestible for the mainstream/media."

Phillips suggested two edits in the word document.

The sub-headline written by the Secretary of State's Office originally highlighted a woman's "right to choose."

"In Response to New Law in Alabama Limiting Women's Civil Rights and Right to Choose, Secretary Griswold Calls for Boycott of Alabama and Takes Action at Department of State."

Phillips responded, "We don't recommend using right to choose/pro-life/pro-choice language anymore, all polling indicates it is further polarizing and turns folks off."

The final version of the news release followed the Planned Parenthood official's recommendation, and did not include the term "right to choose," but instead was replaced with "rights to reproductive health care."

Phillips also suggested removing another line from the release, which was also left out of the final version.

KUSA-TV contacted the Secretary of State's office for comment.  In a statement, Griswold acknowledged reaching out to the abortion provider.

"As a woman in statewide elected office, it's important to me to pay attention to issues affecting women," her statement read. "My office periodically travels to Alabama, and I decided to no longer use state resources to do so while this unconstitutional law is in place. I consulted with Planned Parenthood about this decision, as they are one of the largest providers of, and leading experts on, women's health care."

The television station reported former Deputy Secretary of State Suzanne Staiert discovered the emails between the Secretary of State's office and Planned Parenthood. 

"Fundamentally, people expect that office, in particular, to be non-partisan, and she ran on a platform that she was going to be non-partisan," Staiert told KUSA. "And the reason it's so important is because they regulate elections. They regulate campaign finance. They regulate lobbyists, and now they're working directly and taking orders, basically, from a lobbyist group." 

"Whether you agree with Planned Parenthood's platform or not, I think we can all agree that we should not have our policies in the state dictated to us by special interest groups and lobbying organizations," she continued. "I don't think it's appropriate. I don't think it's ethical. I think it's wrong."

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