9th Circuit refuses to toss Planned Parenthood lawsuit against undercover videos
SAN FRANCISCO, May 18, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – A federal appeals court rejected a pro-life effort to have Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit against the pro-life Center for Medical Progress (CMP) dismissed. The move ensures that the fight will continue over the undercover videos that revealed what many say is the abortion giant’s fetal organ harvesting activities.
On Wednesday, a three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously upheld U.S. District Judge William Orrick’s previous decision to let the lawsuit continue, Courthouse News reports.
In 2014 and 2015, CMP founder David Daleiden and other pro-life investigators had posed as representatives of a fetal tissue procurement company to attend abortion industry meetings in which Planned Parenthood and National Abortion Federation (NAF) officials made a variety of shocking statements about the sale of organs from aborted babies. CMP began releasing undercover videos of their findings in the summer of 2015, sparking an ongoing national scandal.
California prosecutors have charged Daleiden’s team with multiple felonies related to recording “confidential” communications, while Planned Parenthood and NAF are suing to prevent the release of further videos.
CMP had attempted to invoke California’s Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP) law, which Courthouse News summarizes as “meant to curtail frivolous or malicious lawsuits with the potential to chill free speech.”
But the Ninth Circuit’s ruling decided that the request would have “effectively allow[ed] the state anti-SLAPP rules to usurp the federal rules. We could not properly allow such a result.” It also determined that Planned Parenthood had shown enough substance to all fifteen of its claims to decide them at trial.
Planned Parenthood attorney Amy Bomse celebrated the ruling for “affirm[ing] the sufficiency of all 15 claims and that our case can proceed to hold them accountable” for “br[eaking] the law in order to spread malicious lies about Planned Parenthood.”
But Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund attorney Jeffrey Trissell, who is representing CMP, called the ruling “just another step in the case.”
“Many attorneys who specialize in SLAPP law will find it a very important opinion” he said, but it was not “of much note” from “a pro-life and religious liberty perspective,” because it merely determined that Planned Parenthood “had no evidentiary burden at this stage of the litigation.”
Planned Parenthood and its defenders in government and media have long argued that CMP’s videos were “deceptively edited,” and that there is no evidence Planned Parenthood broke the law. In fact, the videos show Planned Parenthood officials Deborah Nucatola and Mary Gatter making multiple references to illegal practices, including a desire to profit off of fetal organs on top of cost reimbursement, performing federally-prohibited partial-birth abortions, and altering abortion procedures in order to procure intact organs. Federal rules forbid abortionists from even knowing whether the parts of the baby they’re killing will be donated, to prevent any incentive for altering their methods at the risk of patient safety.
In one video, abortionist DeShawn Taylor even alludes to performing infanticide, saying the “key” to determining whether an intact, delivered baby shows signs of life after an attempted abortion is “pay[ing] attention to who’s in the room.”
Neither the Obama administration nor the state of California (where most of the incriminating footage was captured) ever investigated, but the Trump Department of Justice saw fit to open an investigation into the matter in December.
Apart from any potential criminality, the videos also reveal abortion industry insiders discussing their practice with callous and shocking language that admits the humanity of the lives they’re ending. Such language includes admitting that their business is "killing," complaining about how "difficult" it is to tear fetuses apart, and referencing the "heads that get stuck that we can’t get out."
Pro-lifers have also objected to Judge Orrick’s involvement in the case, noting that he previously served as a board member a San Francisco organization that lists Planned Parenthood as a “key partnership,” and that his wife has a history of supporting pro-abortion articles and pages on social media. The Ninth Circuit has allowed him to stay on the case, however.
CMP met Wednesday’s decision with a warning to Planned Parenthood about the downside of proceeding to trial. “If Planned Parenthood continues with their meritless litigation, they will answer questions on the record about their fetal body parts sales and they will incriminate themselves,” the group said in a Facebook statement.