In 2015, an anti-abortion group called the Center for Medical Progress launched a smear campaign against Planned Parenthood, falsely claiming that the health care provider illegally sold fetal tissue taken from abortions. The smear campaign relied on secretly recorded (and deceptively edited) videos with Planned Parenthood staff regarding the donation of fetal tissue to medical research. Several states investigated Planned Parenthood in the aftermath of the campaign, only to find that the organization had done nothing illegal.
Now, Planned Parenthood is hitting back.
In a January 14th press release, Planned Parenthood announced that it had filed a federal lawsuit against the parties behind "an ongoing, widely discredited video smear campaign – charging that anti-abortion activists engaged in an elaborate, illegal conspiracy in order to block women’s access to safe and legal abortion." The defendants named in the lawsuit include the Center for Medical Progress, BioMax, and Operation Rescue president Troy Newman, who reportedly "engaged in a complex criminal enterprise to defraud Planned Parenthood and prevent the health care organization from providing preventive and reproductive health services to millions of women and men." (Hat tip to Reuters.)
In a 107-page complaint filed with the U.S. District Court of Northern California, San Francisco Division, Planned Parenthood accuses the defendants of illegal activities.
"This complaint details a complex criminal enterprise conceived and executed by anti-abortion extremists. The express aim of the enterprise— which stretched over years and involved fake companies, fake identifications, and large-scale illegal taping— was to demonize Planned Parenthood, harass and intimidate its dedicated staff, and interrupt its operations, all with the ultimate goal of interfering with women’s access to legal abortion."The complaint argues that the Center for Medical Progress' smear campaign jeopardized the safety of Planned Parenthood patients and staff and triggered a mass shooting at a Colorado Springs clinic in late 2015.
"This conspiracy has cost Plaintiffs millions of dollars and put the safety and security of Planned Parenthood’s personnel and patients at serious risk, as witnessed most horrifically in the shootings at a Planned Parenthood health center in Colorado Springs on November 27, 2015."Planned Parenthood's is suing the aforementioned parties for "[r]estitution of all monies expended by Plaintiffs as a result of Defendant’s unlawful, unfair, and fraudulent business practices".
The Center for Medical Progress scoffed at the "frivolous" lawsuit, insisting that it did nothing more than bring attention to a "barbaric abortion for baby parts trade".
"Planned Parenthood is under investigation by the United States Congress and multiple law enforcement agencies, while their business is drying up and the public is turning against their barbaric abortion for baby parts trade. Now they are filing a frivolous lawsuit in retaliation for CMP’s First Amendment investigative journalism that has done nothing more than tell the truth about Planned Parenthood’s lawless operations. This last-ditch move of desperation is going to expose all of the sordid dealings of the California Planned Parenthood affiliates to the light of the legal system and the public will see them for the corrupt abortion and baby body parts profiteers that they really are."In a January 16th press release, Troy Newman blasted the lawsuit while making bombastic but unsubstantiated claims about "murdered" women and "butchered" babies.
"Planned Parenthood lawsuits will not make me quit! I have read too many autopsy reports of women they have murdered, I have held the remains of babies they butchered, I have read the lies they spew in depositions, and I have witnessed their gruesome crimes against humanity. Nothing short of my life will stop me from the relentless pursuit of the truth to expose the barbaric bloodshed of Planned Parenthood. I will not stop, I will not relent. May God empower me to fight this treachery of human life to my last breath."I applaud Planned Parenthood for taking this step against its tormentors. Anti-abortion activists used unethical tactics in an attempt to bring down a health care provider that performs invaluable services. By standing up to the activists who launched the smear campaign, Planned Parenthood has shown the anti-abortion movement that it will not take these attacks sitting down.
To read additional commentary, visit the following links.
The Nation: Planned Parenthood to Undercover Video Group: We’ll See You in Court
Slate: Planned Parenthood Is Going on the Offensive with Massive Lawsuit
The Inquisitr: Anti-Abortion Activists Sued by Planned Parenthood