Colorado’s Jena Griswold worked with Planned Parenthood on Alabama travel ban release

May 23, 2019 GMT

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold conferred with Planned Parenthood officials on a press release before issuing her ban on office travel to Alabama over legislation prohibiting most abortions.

In emails obtained by 9News in Denver, Ms. Griswold’s communications director, Serena Woods, asked two Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains officials last week for their “thoughts/edits” on a draft release.

The Planned Parenthood officials were Whitney Phillips, vice president of communications, and policy director Jack Teter.

“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,” Ms. Woods said in a May 16 email to “Whitney Jack.”


Ms. Phillips said the Planned Parenthood CEO would contact Ms. Griswold with “additional feedback,” and offered two suggestions for changes to the press release, including removing the phrase “right to choose,” citing polling data.

“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,” Ms. Phillips said in an email.

The phrase “right to choose” did not appear in the final May 16 press release issued by Ms. Griswold, a Democrat elected in November.

Colorado Secretary of State’s Office asks Planned Parenthood for edits on news release “SOS has broken faith with Colorado”https://t.co/kqEOiuOFhp via @9NEWS #coleg #copolitics Jon Caldara (@JonCaldara) May 23, 2019

Ms. Griswold defended her decision to consult with Planned Parenthood, saying that as “a woman in statewide elected office, it’s important to me to pay attention to issues affecting women.”

“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,” she told 9News. “We should not use Colorado state resources in a state that restricts women’s basic constitutional rights in this way.”

Ms. Phillips described the input as part of the job.

“Yes of course. PP (Planned Parenthood) provides messaging guidance around abortion. That is our job as reproductive health experts,” she said in an email to 9News.

Ms. Griswold was skewered for the travel ban in a Monday editorial by the Colorado Springs Gazette, which called her “an amateur salsa dancer who lacks qualifications for the job.”

“It should come as little surprise the flippant Griswold cannot focus on her job,” the editorial said. “Thursday, she wasted public resources on a state other than Colorado and an issue abortion that has nothing to do with her role as secretary of state.”


EDITORIAL: Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold goes off the rails https://t.co/W39B8BiS1V The Gazette (@csgazette) May 20, 2019

Only one other state official, Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot, has announced a ban on Alabama travel in response to the legislation, which was billed as a challenge to the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision and is expected to be stayed by the courts after taking effect in six months.

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, also a Democrat, has indicated that he will not impose a travel ban over the Alabama abortion bill signed last week.

The Alabama law, the strictest in the nation, prohibits abortion after two weeks’ gestation except in cases of a “serious health risk” to the pregnant woman.

Doctors who violate the law would face felony charges and lengthy prison terms, but women who undergo abortions would not be subject to penalties.