Update: As of Monday, January 26th, a grand jury has indicted David Daleidan and Sandra S. Merritt, an employee of the Center for Medical Progress, as well as cleared Planned Parenthood of all wrongdoing. For two months, jurors had been examining video footage from the Center for Medical Progress, claiming that Planned Parenthood were making a profit off of aborted fetal organs, as part of their fetal tissue donation program. “It is an affirming day for Planned Parenthood,” Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast spokeswoman Rochelle Tafolla said, according to the Houston Chronicle. “We feel vindicated.”
On Thursday, January 14th, Planned Parenthood filed a federal lawsuit against the leaders of the faux video smear campaign that made headlines last year. The organization is charging David Daleidan, Troy Newman, the Center for Medical Progress, Biomax and several others involved in the campaign. The lawsuit states that they, “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.”
The charges against these anti-abortion activists include wire fraud, mail fraud, invasion of privacy, illegal secret recording and trespassing. Over the past three years, Daleidan, Newman and others used fake names, acquired fake government IDs and created a fake tissue procurement company called Biomax, which allowed them access to private medical conferences and health care centers. They also illegally taped doctors’ and other medical providers’ conversations without permission. Their videos, which went viral online, involved taking long conversations, then cutting and editing them so that it appeared Planned Parenthood profited off of women’s decision to donate fetal tissue for medical research. Because of these charges, Planned Parenthood’s lawyers are claiming that the Center for Medical Progress broke several state laws and violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).
Despite an investigation, which proved the videos to be false and Planned Parenthood ‘s insistence that they have never sold or facilitated tissue donation for a profit, Daleidan and his cohorts refuse to stop their campaign. The Center for Medical Progress posted a response on their website, saying, “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.”
Planned Parenthood has yet to announce the damages they will demand, but has noted that Daleidan’s actions have been very harmful. Not only were there investigations into the organization’s activities, but they lost state funding and there was a nine-fold increase in the amount of harassment incidents against Planned Parenthood. This includes the November shooting at a Colorado clinic that resulted in three dead and nine injured.
Planned Parenthood has never profited from fetal tissue donation. They allow women to donate fetal tissue after an abortion for medical research that, in the past, has led to breakthroughs in diseases such as vaccines, treatment for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. When a woman does agree to donate fetal tissue, it is handled in a highly ethical and legal standard.
“CMP’s reckless and dangerous actions have created a poisonous environment that fuels political attacks on access to reproductive health care and feeds threats against our health centers,” said Kathy Kneer, CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California. “We’re going on the offensive to expose this fraud for what it is and hold the people behind it accountable – in order to prevent further harassment of our patients and staff and protect access to the preventive and reproductive health care Planned Parenthood provides to millions of people each year.”
What is so astonishing about this turn of events is that despite the fact that Daleiden and others edited the videos to create the message they were trying to spread, despite breaking the law and despite Planned Parenthood’s continued protests, Daleiden and his cohorts refuse to see reason. They have an agenda and nothing, not even facts will stand in their way.