Planned Parenthood files suit against anti-abortion videos group
Updated 12:55 PM ET, Fri January 15, 2016
(CNN)Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit Thursday against the anti-abortion activists who secretly taped the group’s officials talking about the sale of fetal tissue and released the heavily edited videos last year.
The videos sparked a political firestorm in Washington, with Republican lawmakers accusing Planned Parenthood of profiting from the sale and trying unsuccessfully to strip the group of federal funding.
Since the videos began surfacing in July, Planned Parenthood officials have maintained that the group does not profit from its sale of tissue donations to medical research and uses any money received to cover its costs.
And on Thursday, the group said it was going on the offensive against the group who produced the videos, The Center for Medical Progress.
“We are filing this lawsuit to hold accountable the people behind this reckless and malicious smear campaign that was designed only to spread lies about Planned Parenthood,” Kathy Kneer, the chief executive of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California told reporters in a conference call.
The lawsuit, filed in federal district court in San Francisco, alleges that the defendants set up a bogus tissue procurement company and used fake corporate and personal identities to lie their way into private meetings that they illegally taped.
The suit contends the defendants engaged in crimes including wire and mail fraud, invasion of privacy, illegal secret recording and trespassing. It seeks damages and a court order barring the group from entering Planned Parenthood facilities under false pretenses and covertly recording the group’s officials and business.
The Center for Medical Progress’ David Daleiden called the lawsuit “frivolous” and a “last-ditch move of desperation.”
“Game on,” he said in a statement. “I look forward to deposing all the CEOs, medical directors, and their co-conspirators who participated in Planned Parenthood’s illegal baby body parts racket.”
Beth Parker, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California’s chief legal counsel, said Daleidan was “intent on creating a firestorm designed to discredit and destroy Planned Parenthood and end access to reproductive health care.”
“Health centers face a nine-fold increase in security threats and violence culminating in the shooting in Colorado that left three innocent people dead,” she said, referencing the November shooting by a man at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs. Robert Lewis Dear, the accused shooter, said at a hearing for his case that, “I am a warrior for the babies.”
Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood, said the suit also serves as evidence in the ongoing political debate, showing that The Center for Medical progress was a fraud.
“As they, no doubt, try to continue, as many of the candidates have said, to limit or eliminate women’s access to safe, legal abortion in this country, that this is an important part of the conversation,” she said.