Last week, in a victory for reproductive rights advocates, a federal judge in California refused to dismiss a lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood against the so-called Center for Medical Progress (CMP), the anti-abortion group responsible for the discredited videos released last year that falsely accused the women’s healthcare organization of illegally selling fetal tissue.
CMP attempted to argue that the 15 claims leveled against them were not supported by fact and that the lawsuit was an attempt to hinder their First Amendment right to free speech. The judge disagreed and the case will now move on to the discovery phase, leading to inquiries that CMP has actively been attempting to dodge.
The federal racketeering lawsuit, compromising 15 claims, was originally filed in January and alleged that in 2012 David Daldien and his associates, including Operation Rescue leader Troy Newman, concocted a scheme to infiltrate the medical research and reproductive healthcare community in an effort to demonize and allege illegal activity on the part of Planned Parenthood.
In the process, CMP allegedly violated a number of state and federal laws including the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization (RICO) Act and the Federal Wiretap Act. They lied their way into medical conferences, used fake government identifications to gain access to Planned Parenthood facilities and events, and signed confidentiality agreements they did not intend to uphold.
CMP has actively fought releasing the names of any individuals associated with the anti-abortion group, claiming it would be a violation of their First Amendment right to associational privacy. Their reluctance to transparency has raised questions about who is funding the organization and who is receiving reports on their progress.
Meanwhile the House Select Investigative Panel targeting abortion providers and medical researchers has waged a “McCarythesque witch hunt,” using their power of congressional subpoenas to publicly release the names of individuals involved in stem cell donation, procurement and research. The Panel was formed in the wake of the discredited CMP videos and refuses to disband, despite finding no evidence of illegal activity almost a year into the investigation.
Just last week, the Panel’s republican members voted unanimously to recommend that a small biotech company be held in criminal contempt of Congress for not publicly revealing employee names over fear for their physical safety. The CEO has already received numerous death threats since the House investigation began and in April, a Washington man pled guilty in federal court to threatening the lives of the company’s employees and encouraging others to murder them.
Not a single investigation on the state or federal level has produced any evidence of wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood and violence against abortion providers has seen a dramatic increase. The Feminist Majority Foundation has been calling on the Panel to either redirect its focus to violence against abortion providers or disband. Take action here.