UPDATE — MARCH 24, 2016:
Two more Planned Parenthood affiliates have joined the lawsuit against the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) — the anti-abortion group that broke numerous laws trying to smear Planned Parenthood with purposefully misleading attack videos. CMP operatives trespassed on health center property at these affiliates’ health centers in Texas and Colorado — using fake identities to enter clinically sensitive areas and videotape staff without regard for patient privacy or safety.
With the new plaintiffs, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast and Planned Parenthood Rocky Mountains (which includes Colorado Springs), the lawsuit expands upon the damages caused by Daleiden and his co-conspirators’ reckless actions and dangerous rhetoric. They make the case that these actions and rhetoric contribute to a hostile climate in Louisiana, Texas, and Colorado — a climate that has enabled increased political and violent attacks against Planned Parenthood health centers and other abortion providers.
JANUARY 14, 2016
Planned Parenthood is taking some crooks to court: the anti-abortion extremists behind the malicious, months-long video smear campaign. This group — including David Daleiden and his so-called Center for Medical Progress (CMP) — lied, broke the law, and put health care access for millions of Americans at risk in their single-minded drive to attack Planned Parenthood. With the lawsuit Planned Parenthood filed today, we’re going to make them answer for the laws they broke and the fraud they committed.
The Lawsuit: Holding Anti-Abortion Extremists Accountable for Breaking the Law in Order to Spread Their Lies
The civil lawsuit that Planned Parenthood filed today in California charges anti-abortion activists with an elaborate, illegal conspiracy — one they created in order to falsely accuse Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing and ultimately block patients’ access to safe, legal abortion.
The California-based CMP broke so many laws to manufacture their smear campaign that we couldn’t sue them for just one thing. Here are the highlights:
The lawsuit is against known anti-abortion extremists, including Daleiden, Troy Newman, Albin Rhomberg, and Sandra Merritt, as well as the front organizations they created to commit their crimes: CMP and BioMax.
The lawsuit charges that CMP, its leaders, and other co-conspirators:
Violated the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act;
Violated the federal eavesdropping statute;
Engaged in wire fraud, mail fraud, invasion of privacy, illegal secret recording, and trespassing; and
Used a complex criminal enterprise to defraud Planned Parenthood and prevent it from providing health care.
The lawsuit asks for restitution of compensatory and punitive damages and triple damages for violation of the RICO Act, as well as attorney's fees.
Here’s why this lawsuit matters:
People who would lie, cheat, trespass, and invade people’s privacy just to block women’s access to safe and legal medical care deserve to be punished. They must be held accountable so that others like them will know the price they will pay for carrying out crimes like these.
Center for Medical Progress: The Group Behind the Videos
To fully understand the lawsuit, you need to know about CMP. It’s a front group that the defendants mentioned above created in order to orchestrate their video attacks against Planned Parenthood.
Over the course of nearly three years, CMP operatives including Daleiden and Newman:
Created fake identities(and fake government IDs);
Obtained a credit card using a fake name;
Used their aliases to form another front organization: a fake tissue procurement company called BioMax;
Wormed their way into private medical conferences and trespassed onto private property (like health care centers); and
Illegally recorded private professional conversations of doctors and other medical providers without consent.
When CMP’s illegally recorded videos, trespassing, and other efforts didn’t turn up anything bad, they spliced together shards of lengthy conversations to create short, deceptive, and distorted videos. In the summer of 2015, CMP started releasing these videos, which claimed that Planned Parenthood health centers profited from fetal tissue donation. Since then, CMP’s smear campaign has continued to push more lies and outrageous accusations.
There you have it: CMP broke the law in order to spread outrageous lies about Planned Parenthood.
Just So We’re Clear: These Extremists’ Claims are False — And Planned Parenthood Didn’t Do Anything Wrong
We can’t believe we need to keep saying it, but here we go: The claims made by the people behind the videos are fiction. The videos weren’t just illegally made. They are purposely deceptive in order to spread lies. They are maliciously edited to trick viewers into thinking things happened that did NOT – with the truth omitted.
Just so we’re clear: Planned Parenthood doesn’t sell fetal tissue. In two states, Planned Parenthood offers patients the option to donate fetal tissue for important medical research – research that has led to medical breakthroughs, such as vaccines and treatment for diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
You know what else Planned Parenthood has done? Consistently provided high-quality, compassionate health care. Period.
Banning Abortion: The Real Motive Behind the Videos
The people behind the video smear campaign are anti-abortion extremist who want to ban women’s access to safe and legal abortion entirely. This was their actual motive and it can be seen from anti-abortion politicians’ response: These widely discredited videos gave politicians who have always wanted to ban safe and legal abortion the fuel they needed to try to cut funding for women’s health programs and block patients from accessing services at Planned Parenthood health centers. Soon after the videos were released, anti-abortion politicians started calling for “defunding” Planned Parenthood, and a witch hunt in Congress ensued despite a complete lack of justification.
The videos also triggered investigations in multiple states. Over and over again, the investigations have found nothing — because the claims in those videos have no basis in reality. Officials in 10 states have concluded investigations into claims that Planned Parenthood profited from fetal tissue donation, and each one cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing. Another eight states declined to investigate, citing a lack of any evidence to even suggest wrongdoing.
The Devastating Consequences
The political attacks have put the health care of millions in jeopardy. Meanwhile, the reckless, dangerous actions by anti-abortion extremists have created a poisonous environment that has fed acts of violence against Planned Parenthood health centers and other abortion providers.
Since the release of the deceptively edited videos last July, Planned Parenthood has seen a nine-fold increase in threats and criminal activities against their health centers. With today’s lawsuit, Planned Parenthood hopes that exposing CMP’s fraud for what it is will prevent further harassment of Planned Parenthood patients and staff.
Stand with Planned Parenthood
It's never been more clear: Anti-abortion extremists will stop at nothing to ban safe and legal abortion. The highly edited, intentionally misleading videos represent the 10th smear campaign in 15 years aimed at damaging Planned Parenthood's reputation — and we're not going to take it any longer.