On Thursday, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) and its founder, David Daleiden, sued Planned Parenthood for defamation in federal court. Daleiden and CMP released a string of sting videos exposing Planned Parenthood employees’ shameful and illegal trafficking in aborted baby body parts in 2015. Even though the videos were accurate, Planned Parenthood claimed that they were doctored and false. Government officials even targeted Daleiden for prosecution. Yet some of Planned Parenthood’s business partners confessed to illegally selling body parts and the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the undercover footage was accurate.
“Planned Parenthood admits my videos are true when under oath in federal court, but when speaking to the public, Planned Parenthood lies and calls the videos fake,” Daleiden said in a statement. “I have put my life on hold for five years to report, with video evidence, the trafficking of aborted infants that I and others witnessed at the highest levels of Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry. It is time for Planned Parenthood to face the truth.”
“Planned Parenthood has tremendous power and influence in our society. But even it must adhere to legal norms. We filed this lawsuit to hold PPFA accountable for damaging falsehoods it uttered concerning our clients’ groundbreaking journalism that exposed shocking practices it would rather keep hidden — for good reason,” Harmeet Dhillon, a lawyer representing Daleiden and CMP in the suit, said in a statement. “Planned Parenthood is not above the law. We look forward to the merits litigation of this lawsuit.”
“Instead of coming clean about its ruthless pursuit of profit from selling the remains of aborted children, Planned Parenthood tried to smear David Daleiden, the man who blew the whistle on its dirty secret,” Peter Breen, vice president and senior counsel for the Thomas More Society and another of Daleiden’s lawyers, added. “In its earlier lawsuit against David and the Center for Medical Progress, Planned Parenthood fought to avoid scrutiny of its illegal fetal tissue trafficking. This new lawsuit puts Planned Parenthood’s grisly business practices front and center, to prove the truth of the conclusions of David’s investigation, which were also confirmed and echoed by the United States Congress and other government officials.”
After CMP and Daleiden released the sting videos, which showed Planned Parenthood staff admitting to selling aborted baby body parts for profit, and one even joking about buying a Lamborghini with the profits, Planned Parenthood hired the firm Fusion GPS, now notorious for assembling the Trump-Russia dossier, to obscure the facts and suggest the videos were deceptively edited.
Many media outlets have claimed that the Fusion GPS report settled the matter, even though the report’s fine print acknowledged the veracity of the photos.
The Planned Parenthood sting videos were authentic
In 2017, the U.S. Department of Justice announced it had opened a federal investigation into Planned Parenthood and its business partners, prompted by the videos. Two of Planned Parenthood’s business partners in Orange County, Calif., admitted guilt for selling aborted baby body parts in a $7.8 million settlement. DV Biologics and DaVinci Biosciences acquired their profits “by viewing body parts as a commodity and illegally selling fetal tissues for valuable consideration,” District Attorney Tony Rackauckas explained in a statement.
In September 2018, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) terminated its contracts with Planned Parenthood partner Advanced Bioscience Resources because it could not be “sufficiently assured” that the company’s supply of fetal tissue complied with federal law. In January 2019, Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Edith Jones ruled that CMP’s footage was “authentic and not deceptively edited.”
Planned Parenthood officials admitted — in sworn deposition testimony that the CMP videos authentically captured their statements. Planned Parenthood Federation of America admitted in a federal trial that the words captured in the sting videos “were spoken by those persons.”
Yet on September 18, 2019, Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Melanie Newman accused Daleiden of launching a “multiyear illegal effort to manufacture a fake smear campaign against Planned Parenthood.” Planned Parenthood also tweeted that Daleiden and CMP had “created a false smear campaign against Planned Parenthood.”
The lawsuit claims that these two statements constitute defamation with actual malice against Daleiden and CMP. The lawsuit demands actual and punitive damages of at least $75,000, “including damages necessary to make Plaintiffs whole for the presumptive impairment to their reputation, personal humiliation, mental anguish and suffering; and punitive and exemplary damages, in an amount necessary to punish PPFA for its malicious conduct toward Plaintiffs.” The lawsuit also requests an injunction to force Planned Parenthood to retract these statements.
Planned Parenthood’s Melanie Newman condemned the lawsuit as a “desperate attempt” to “get publicity.”
“These baseless claims are not new. They are just another desperate attempt by a discredited source to get publicity,” she told Fox News. “Last fall, a jury — with all of the facts fully presented to it — decided that David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress intentionally broke the law in a multi-year, malicious campaign to advance their goals of banning safe, legal abortion in this country, and preventing Planned Parenthood from serving the patients who depend on us. The result: Daleiden was ordered to pay millions of dollars in damages. And, he still faces criminal charges.”
David Daleiden Exposes Planned Parenthood’s ‘Coordinated Attack on the Civil Liberties of Pro-Life Americans’
Impact on 2020
This lawsuit is also important during the 2020 presidential race. When Kamala Harris — now Democratic nominee Joe Biden’s running mate — was attorney general of California, her office searched Daleiden’s home, seizing his video footage and preparing a legal case against him. Harris has received at least $81,000 from Planned Parenthood. In 2017, Harris’s successor, Xavier Becerra (another politician bankrolled by Planned Parenthood), filed 15 felony charges against CMP and Daleiden.
Peter Breen, special counsel at the Thomas More Society, briefed PJ Media on the ongoing case last July. He argued that Daleiden’s filming was taken in “entirely public places.”
“I could point you to undercover investigations that are being shown on the evening news in Los Angeles. Under the standard they are applying to David, those would be felonies,” the lawyer argued. “The other reporters are being lauded for their brave investigative techniques, but David is being prosecuted.”
“I would say this is an abuse of the criminal process,” Breen told PJ Media.
Pro-choice law professors have defended Daleiden’s right to engage in undercover journalism.
“The Planned Parenthood case reveals that activists – and journalists – might… have to go to prison for undercover reporting if they violate any laws to gain access to the targets of their investigation,” Sherry F. Cobb and Michael C. Dorf, professors of law at Cornell University and authors of Beating Hearts: Abortion and Animal Rights, wrote in 2016. They condemned the charges against Daleiden as “a stunning act of legal jujitsu” that could “chill undercover journalists and activists everywhere.”
If CMP and Daleiden prevail in this lawsuit, that will serve as a damning indictment to Kamala Harris, whose office launched the criminal investigation against them. This news should also remind Americans of Harris’ tyrannical past — which is extremely relevant because most Americans have said that if Joe Biden is elected in November, he will not serve out his term.
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Tyler O’Neil is the author of Making Hate Pay: The Corruption of the Southern Poverty Law Center. Follow him on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.