Texas Planned Parenthood Joins Suit Against Group Behind Undercover Videos

Anti-abortion demonstrators outside the U.S. Supreme Court on March 2, 2016.EXPAND
Anti-abortion demonstrators outside the U.S. Supreme Court on March 2, 2016.
Stephen Young

Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, a Texas-based affiliate of the women's health organization, has joined a lawsuit by Planned Parenthood branches across the country against the Center for Medical Progress and the people behind it. Posing as tissue researchers, Center for Medical Progress employees — they fancy themselves investigative journalists — went into multiple Planned Parenthood facilities in an attempt to catch the health care provider profiting from the sale of fetal tissue. The videos were later shown to be heavily edited — the one filmed in Texas was spliced together in an attempt to show officials saying things they never said — and none of the subsequent investigations ordered by opportunistic Republican state officials have turned up anything that suggests Planned Parenthood actually engaged in any of the practices they were accused of participating in.

The state of Texas ordered three separate investigations into Planned Parenthood following the release of the videos, but all that the Center for Medical Progress has managed to accomplish so far is getting itself sued and getting two of its employees, founder David Daleiden and his fellow "reporter" Sandra Merritt, indicted. The duo was charged after an investigation foisted on the Harris County district attorney by Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick only found potential wrongdoing on behalf of those filming the video. Daleiden and Merritt are awaiting trial on charges of tampering with governmental records — a second-degree felony.

The lawsuit against the Center for Medical Progress claims that operatives for the organization gained access to Planned Parenthood facilities using fake IDs and hiding behind research corporations that didn't exist. Partly filmed in states — California, Washington and Maryland — that require both parties' consent for electronic recording, the Center for Medical Progress' actions amount to a conspiracy, Planned Parenthood and its affiliates say. The plaintiffs are seeking an injunction against Center for Medical Progress associates entering Planned Parenthood property or filming Planned Parenthood officials, cash damages and attorneys fees.

David Daleiden's mugshot from his booking in Harris County on charges of tampering with a government record.
David Daleiden's mugshot from his booking in Harris County on charges of tampering with a government record.
Harris County

Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast says that, even after the indictments and thorough discrediting of the videos, Daleiden and company's work is still doing harm to women in Texas.

“Extreme anti-abortion politicians who want to ban abortion have invoked these lies to fuel their efforts to pass extreme restrictions on access to reproductive health care,” Melaney A. Linton, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast said Thursday. “Even after David Daleiden has been indicted on a felony charge and these videos have been thoroughly discredited, women are still facing devastating consequences from these smear videos. These extreme anti-abortion activists acted illegally and then spread lies about our care. They must be held accountable.”

The Center for Medical Progress did not respond to a request for additional comment Thursday. When the lawsuit was initially filed in January, they released the following statement: 

"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."


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