Planned Parenthood Would Gut the First Amendment to Silence Sting Videos
Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation (NAF) have each separately sued David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) over sting videos released in 2015, showing Planned Parenthood executives haggling over prices for aborted baby parts.
Planned Parenthood has engaged in legal warfare against Daleiden, seeking to silence him and anyone else who would reveal their alleged criminal profiteering from baby parts. While sting videos are commonplace in journalism, California's attorney general — whose campaign was funded by the abortion giant — is prosecuting Daleiden over the videos.
"The ultimate aims of Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation are to shut down pro-life activism and any sort of investigative oversight of their clearly illegal activities," Peter Breen, special counsel at the Thomas More Society, told PJ Media. He had defended Daleiden in court on Thursday, demanding Planned Parenthood produce evidence that their affiliates did not break federal law by selling baby parts for profit.
The Planned Parenthood case hinges on the claim that the abortion giant's affiliates did not break the law, which forbids profiting from the sale of fetal tissue, a federal felony punishable by up to ten years in prison. Under federal law, it is legal to receive reimbursement for the costs of transporting fetal tissue, but the abortion giant has refused to turn over invoices demonstrating the costs of this transport and just how much it received in exchange for the body parts.
In court on Thursday, Planned Parenthood claimed that such invoices have "zero bearing" on the issues in the case. Breen argued, however, that the videos established the Planned Parenthood and affiliates received payments in exchange for fetal tissue, so it is incumbent on them to prove that they did not receive more money than the expenses allowable by law.
The abortion giant claims to have been harmed by Daleiden's statements and videos, but if it was indeed violating the law, its claim of damage collapses, Breen argued.
"Fetal tissue can't be sold for profit under federal law and the allowable costs that you can claim are very limited," Breen told PJ Media. "It's David and CMP's contention that Planned Parenthood and its affiliates didn't have any allowable costs or if they did, they were less than the amount they received in exchange for the baby parts."
The lawyer told PJ Media that the judge gave them two weeks to provide evidence to prove their case.
"Not only can they not prove that what David Daleiden said was wrong, but they violated the law. We intend to show that definitively through the discovery process," Breen explained.
Planned Parenthood has accused Daleiden and CMP of engaging in racketeering against them, making this a federal RICO case. Breen predicted that they will claim damages in the millions of dollars. "They are trying to throw David and the Center for Medical Progress into bankruptcy, to shut them down," he said.
More than that, he noted the "very significant First Amendment issues" involved. "No investigative journalist has ever been prosecuted in the state of California for undercover taping," until Daleiden, he said.
In 2016, Kamala Harris — then attorney general of California — searched Daleiden's home, seizing his video footage. In 2017, her successor, Xavier Becerra, filed 15 felony charges against CMP and Daleiden. Both Harris and Becerra have received thousands in Planned Parenthood donations to their political campaigns over the years.
Breen argued that all of 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."
Breen teased that the Thomas More Society has further evidence of "involvement" between Becerra, his prosecutors, and Planned Parenthood. "We've got more information that will be coming soon."
"I would say this is an abuse of the criminal process," he said. "In pushing to have David Daleiden prosecuted unjustly and in attempting to shut down any discovery over their illegal activities, Planned Parenthood is abusing the court process that we as citizens count on for our protection. What Planned Parenthood is doing is the furthest thing from justice."
Pro-choice law professors have defended Daleiden's right to engage in undercover journalism, noting that "Daleiden and [Sandra] Merritt were only posing as buyers to expose what they believed was illegal conduct by others." While the professors decried the CMP effort to attack Planed Parenthood, they opposed "efforts to criminalize undercover investigations, regardless of the investigators' ultimate motives."
In the rush to defend itself after the sting videos, the abortion giant hired Fusion GPS — a firm now infamous for compiling the Trump-Russia dossier — to compile a misleading report inferring the videos were false.
The "forensic report" attempted to discredit the CMP videos as manipulations, selectively edited clips that twisted the Planned Parenthood staff out of context. Ironically, buried in the depths of the report, came a powerful confession: there was no "widespread evidence of substantive video manipulation."
If Planned Parenthood did indeed break the law by profiting over the sale of baby parts, their case against Daleiden collapses. Perhaps for this reason, they have attacked Daleiden and CMP with all that they have, hoping to bury the truth with legal warfare. If Breen is correct, these attempts will come to nothing.