Disputes over alleged pro-life violence rock the end of witness testimony in Planned Parenthood trial
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SAN FRANCISCO, November 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Contentious disputes over alleged violence of pro-lifers roiled the final days of testimony in the landmark Planned Parenthood Federation of America vs Center for Medical Progress federal civil trial.
With witness and evidence presentations ending Wednesday, Judge William Orrick heard arguments Thursday and Friday from plaintiff and defense lawyers on how he should instruct the jury.
It’s expected that the two women and nine men — one juror was allowed off this week after she broke her arm — will begin their deliberations by the middle of next week.
Week 6 was notable for several deft moves by the defense in what one pro-life lawyer has described as a high-pressure “chess match.”
Despite the judge restricting testimony about fetal organ harvesting as irrelevant, two defense witnesses gave the jury another look at the gruesome business.
And despite the judge banning mention of infamous late-term abortionist Kermit Gosnell as “prejudicial,” a Planned Parenthood witness’s claim that an abortionist was subjected to a death threat referencing “the electric chair” allowed defense to point out that Gosnell is in jail for life for murdering babies who survived abortion.
That’s the same violent crime that CMP’s team was investigating in its 30-month undercover operation into Planned Parenthood’s trafficking in aborted baby parts.
The CMP videos released in July 2015 sparked public outrage, Congressional investigations, an ongoing Department of Justice criminal investigation into the abortion giant, and a slight dent in the half-billion dollars that Planned Parenthoood receives annually in public funding.
In the retaliatory suit, PPFA and 10 affiliates accused CMP project lead David Daleiden, undercover investigators Sandra Merritt and Adrian Lopez, and founding board members Albin Rhomberg and Operation Rescue president Troy Newman of multiple crimes for going undercover at Planned Parenthood and National Abortion Federation meetings in 2014 and 2015, and seeking damages in potentially millions of dollars.
Damages a ‘moving target’
Given that Planned Parenthood has added and withdrawn claims to suit it purposes, the exact damages have been a “moving target,” as defense lawyer Charles LiMandri noted.
However, forensic accountant Greg Regan testified Monday that Planned Parenthood seeks $630,213 for updates to its conference admission protocols, as noted in a summary by CMP.
Most of this is fees to consulting firms, “with $44,000 for media monitoring, $108,600 for reviewing PPFA’s vetting practices, $53,000 for security consulting, and $29,000 for guard services for events CMP investigators didn’t attend,” CMP noted.
This base amount will increase to millions if attorneys’ fees are added.
Compensatory damages are meant to restore a corporation to where it was before alleged damages took place, and Planned Parenthood’s security system is much improved, noted LiMandri.
Regan explained that he based his figures — which he admittedly arrived at in consultation with with Planned Parenthood COO Melvin Galloway and PPFA lawyers — on the assumption that Planned Parenthood would establish that there was an increased “level of threat of infiltration to their conferences following the defendants’ actions.”
‘Trivial to figure out these guys scamming us’: PP director
PPFA event coordinator Brandon Minow testified that Planned Parenthood’s security measures for conferences included giving hotel and security a list of known adversaries, and having a “lookbook” with pictures of those individuals.
This “lookbook” evidently wasn’t used in the case of Daleiden, known to PPFA since at least 2009 because of his work with Live Action.
Minow said PPFA had to call in security and media monitoring consultants Kroll and Thacher as an immediate response to the videos’ release.
But Vicki Cowart, CEOI for Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountain (PPRM), sent an email shortly after the videos’ release blasting PPFA for not busting Daleiden and his fake company BioMax sooner, pointed out Peter Breen of Thomas More Society.
“It was trivial to figure out these guys were scamming us,” Cowart wrote. She told PPFA to adopt the three steps PPRM used: Google, the vendor’s address and telephone number, and review its written materials.
“Did PPFA do so?” Breen asked.
“We took her recommendation seriously. But at the time, we were in the process of engaging with Kroll, and then Thacher, to create systems that worked for us,” Minow answered.
Did Minow know that “at least two management-level employees at Planned Parenthood suspected BioMax was not a real tissue procurement company as early as April of 2015?” Breen asked.
Minow said he hadn’t been told that.
Although Planned Parenthood is not claiming reputational damage, both Regan and Minow admitted that Planned Parenthood thought it needed to upgrade its screening and vetting protocols because the CMP videos had harmed its reputation among its typical conference attendees, CMP’s summary noted.
The alleged ‘electric chair’ death threat
Breen brought up the Cowart email with Kevin Paul, lawyer for PPRM, who admitted it relied on PPFA’s recommendation of BioMax when it allowed Daleiden and Merritt to visit in 2015.
Dr. Savita Ginde, PPRM’s then-medical director, had long expressed dissatisfaction with Planned Parenthood’s security, and has since written a book about her experiences and given a Ted talk, testimony revealed.
After CMP released two videos featuring Ginde, she asked to be moved to an undisclosed location for security reasons. One of the damages that PPFA is claiming is its grant of $33,210 to PPRM for a six-month lease on her temporary digs.
Paul admitted under cross-examination that his law firm had another lawyer create a shell company to pay the lease so Ginde could avoid taxes on the grant.
He testified that Ginde received death threats “that used words like ‘dismemberment’ and ‘electric chair,’ and similar statements to that.”
But under cross examination by Catherine Short of the Life Legal Defense Foundation, Paul admitted that the “threat” using the words “electric chair” was a reply to a tweet.
The original tweet said, “Kermit Gosnell got life in prison without parole. What do Dr. Nucatola and Dr. Savita Ginde deserve?” along with a quote from Nucatola. Someone tweeted a reply: “The electric chair.”
Short pointed out to Paul that Gosnell was “convicted of murdering an infant born alive following an abortion in his abortion clinic” and “sentenced by a judge to life imprisonment without parole.”
Expert debunks NAF ‘violence’ statistics
Ginde was not tagged or “mentioned” in either the tweet or reply and consequently would not see either of them unless she was searching the hashtag #PPSellsBabyParts or otherwise looking for references to herself.
Paul admitted that the tweet had been found because Planned Parenthood was “monitoring” the internet. He also admitted the tweet was probably reported to the National Abortion Federation (NAF) as a “death threat.”
NAF security chief Michelle Davidson testified last week about how NAF gathers its “violence and disruption statistics.”
But Dr. Michael New, a defense expert witness on statistics, debunked the accuracy of NAF’s numbers and described them as “low quality,” notably because NAF does not corroborate all of the alleged incidents.
Moreover, only 60 percent of NAF members sent in data, a fact it does not disclose and which New only found through Davidson’s testimony.
Nor can NAF’s numbers be used to project any trends, New said.
Davidson testified “that these statistics from NAF are relied on by law enforcement,” pointed out Planned Parenthood lawyer Amy Bomse.
No, she testified that law enforcement found the statistics “helpful,” and didn’t give any evidence to back that up, New replied.
“Law enforcement may well have been just being diplomatic.”
Aborted baby body parts harvesters testify
Defense called Advanced Bioscience Resources founder and president Linda Tracy and procurement manager Perrin Larton as witnesses.
“A U.S. wholesaler of aborted baby body parts since 1989,” ABR’s “yearly revenues are about $1.1 to $1.5 million, all from harvesting and purchasing livers, lungs, and brains in abortion facilities and reselling the body parts to taxpayer-funded research laboratories at enormous mark-up prices,” noted a press release by Liberty Counsel, which is representing Merritt in both the civil and a parallel criminal proceeding.
Larton “testified she did not recant any of the statements she made to Daleiden about babies falling out intact for organ harvesting, and that ABR could receive intact fetuses as frequently as every couple months,” Liberty Counsel noted.
Tracy testified in her deposition that she did not consider her conversation with then-undercover Daleiden at the 2014 NAF conference confidential under NAF’s non-disclosure agreement, but in the trial, she claimed it was.
Tracy also said she didn’t discuss “pricing” of fetal tissue at the NAF conference. But in her deposition played in court, she testified that she discussed ABR’s “Regulated Tissue Acquisition” harvesting, for which researchers pay $6,000 per procurement.