Federal lawsuit against the people behind the video smear campaign will protect Planned Parenthood’s patients and staff, while exposing the real lawbreakers.
Everyone who supports a woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices knows that Planned Parenthood hasn’t broken any laws. On the other hand, the people who made videos designed to spread lies about the organization have violated a laundry list of laws.
To prove that — and to protect women’s access to safe, legal reproductive healthcare — Planned Parenthood has filed a federal lawsuit against the people behind an ongoing, widely discredited video smear campaign. The lawsuit charges that anti-abortion activists engaged in an elaborate, illegal conspiracy in order to block women’s access to safe and legal abortion. The videos, which make false and disproven claims, have been invoked in political attacks on access to reproductive health care in Michigan and across the country.
The civil lawsuit, filed in San Francisco, outlines how the defendants – including David Daleiden, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) and BioMax – engaged in a complex criminal enterprise to defraud Planned Parenthood and prevent the healthcare organization from providing preventive and reproductive health services to millions of women and men. The lawsuit charges that CMP, its leaders and co-conspirators engaged in illegal conduct that includes violating the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO Act) and engaging in wire fraud, mail fraud, invasion of privacy, illegal secret recording and trespassing.
Over the course of nearly three years, Daleiden and others used aliases, obtained fake government I.D.s, and formed a fake tissue procurement company, BioMax, in an effort to worm their way into private medical conferences and healthcare centers. They also illegally taped private professional conversations of doctors and other medical providers and spliced together shards of long conversations to create short videos in order to spread false claims that Planned Parenthood “sells” or profits from women’s decisions to donate fetal tissue for medical research. In fact, Planned Parenthood has never sold fetal tissue or facilitated fetal tissue donation to make a profit.
The Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan (PPMSM) affiliate does not facilitate fetal tissue donation for patients locally and is not a party in the lawsuit – but the video smear campaign has been used to push for restrictions on access to reproductive healthcare in Michigan and around the country.
Lori Carpentier, PPMSM president and CEO, had this to say.
These anti-abortion activists broke multiple laws to spread lies about Planned Parenthood, and the lawsuit filed today will expose this fraud for what it is and hold accountable the people behind it. It’s unbelievable that these lies are being used to try to block the more than 70,000 people in Michigan served by Planned Parenthood each year from receiving our high-quality reproductive healthcare. We won’t let that happen.
A small number of Planned Parenthood affiliates have offered patients the ability to donate fetal tissue for critical medical research that has led to important medical breakthroughs such as vaccines, and treatment for diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Like all of Planned Parenthood’s services, this work operates under the highest legal, medical and ethical standards, with full consent of patients.
To date, officials in 10 states have concluded investigations into claims that Planned Parenthood profited from fetal tissue donation, and each one has cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing. Another eight states, including Michigan, have declined to even investigate, citing a lack of any evidence to suggest wrongdoing.
The malicious, distorted and discredited videos that have been released over the last several months were timed to coincide with Congressional votes to defund Planned Parenthood and enact additional abortion restrictions. Since the release of these deceptively edited videos last July, Planned Parenthood has seen a nine-fold increase in threats and criminal activities against their health centers.
So not only are the defendants in this case spreading malicious lies, they are putting the lives of Planned Parenthood’s patients and staff in danger. In fact, three people died after being shot by Robert Dear at a Planned Parenthood health center in Colorado Springs. Dear has admitted to the shooting, recently saying, “I might have saved a thousand babies.” He initially said, “No more baby parts” to explain his actions.
As for the disproven wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood, in Michigan regulatory agencies have reiterated that they have had no reason to focus any special spotlight on PPMSM’s services or health centers. On October 7, 2015, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs stated that with regard to Planned Parenthood, “LARA and MDHHS have thoroughly reviewed our regulatory oversight regarding the investigations and inspections of licensed facilities and individuals and there is no evidence to date that illegal practices are occurring.”
Planned Parenthood provides safe, high-quality, essential health care including life-saving cancer screenings, birth control, STD testing and treatment, prenatal care, sexual health information and education. Planned Parenthood also provides abortion services and ensures that women have full information about all of their options related to pregnancy.
Abortion opponents like CMP have resorted to lies and illegal activities in attempt to shut down Planned Parenthood — even though all of the services they offer are completely legal, whether opponents like it or not. Especially with the increasing threats of violence, Planned Parenthood is fighting back, Carpentier says.
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. We’re going on the offensive to prevent further harassment of our patients and staff and protect access to the preventive and reproductive healthcare that Planned Parenthood provides.
If you stand with Planned Parenthood’s decision to file this lawsuit, you can add your name here to show your support.
[Image courtesy of Planned Parenthood.]