A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled yesterday that the anti-abortion group calling itself the Center for Medical Progress must provide documents and respond to questions concerning deceptive videos the group produced to mislead the public about Planned Parenthood.
In July, the National Abortion Federation (NAF) filed a federal lawsuit against CMP, its leader David Daleiden, and CMP board member and Operation Rescue president Troy Newman alleging civil conspiracy, racketeering, fraud and breach of contract. This lawsuit follows the distribution of falsified, misleading videos suggesting NAF members, including Planned Parenthood, illegally sold fetal tissue.
There is no evidence that Planned Parenthood has ever sold fetal tissue. Planned Parenthood clinics in two states (making up only one percent of Planned Parenthood health centers in the country) allow patients to participate in legal fetal tissue donation programs. Fetal tissue donation contributes to groundbreaking medical research.
Federal District Court Judge William Orrick extended a temporary restraining order in August on behalf of NAF, prohibiting Daleiden, Newman, CMP, and Biomax, another defendant involved in the CMP scheme, from releasing any videos, documents, or other confidential information obtained from NAF Annual Meetings. This information included the dates and locations of future meetings. Judge Orrick also ordered defendants to produce discovery, documents and other materials that will aid in resolving the legal dispute between the parties.
Defendants immediately petitioned the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, opposing the discovery request, and notified the district court that they would plead the Fifth Amendment, a protection against self-incrimination. The Ninth Circuit briefly suspended the discovery order while it reviewed the anti-abortion group’s petition. Its decision yesterday means that the defendants must comply with Judge Orrick’s order and produce documents and submit to questioning.
Judge Orrick ruled earlier this month that CMP and Biomax could not plead the Fifth to avoid complying with NAF’s requests for discovery. Judge Orrick also ruled that Daleiden and Newman could not use the Fifth Amendment to assert a blanket refusal to answer all questions posed by NAF. Instead, as individuals, they can plead the Fifth only on a question-by-question basis, allowing NAF to challenge each instance and the Court to rule on a question-by-question basis whether Fifth Amendment protections apply.
The temporary restraining order against CMP, Biomax, Daleiden, and Newman remains in effect.
Media Resources: U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit 9/23/15; Feminist Newswire 9/21/15, 9/1/15, 8/6/15; National Abortion Federation Press Release 8/25/15, 7/31/15