Texas Legislature

Planned Parenthood Sues Over Doctored "Baby Parts" Videos

Planned Parenthood has sued the Center for Medical Progress over a series of videos released in 2015 that CMP said showed Planned Parenthood officials engaging in illegal conduct — namely, attempting to sell fetal tissue obtained from abortions, for profit. The videos touched off a firestorm from anti-abortion politicians. In Texas, where one of the longest videos was filmed at a Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast facility, state officials ordered three separate investigations into the healthcare provider.

None of the investigations have turned up anything, but Texas Planned Parenthood clinics have been officially booted from a Texas HIV-prevention program. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, at a July Texas Senate Hearing called just as the Texas CMP video surfaced, made it clear that his goal was ending legal abortion in the state.

"The videos that have made all the headlines raise a large number of troubling allegations, allegations that — again — my office is aggressively investigating, and we will go to any and all lawful lengths to get to the bottom of what has been happening. But more than any misdeeds involving the sale of aborted baby parts is this fundamental truth: The true abomination in all this is the institution of abortion," Paxton said then. 

In August, Planned Parenthood published a report documenting the ways in which the group says even the "full-length" versions of the videos distributed by CMP had been substantially manipulated by David Dalaiden, CMP's leader, and others. The Texas video was deemed to be the most manipulated by the report. It featured several spots where words were spliced together in order to make the video appear seamless.

Now, Planned Parenthood is going after CMP in federal court.

“The people behind this fraud lied and broke the law in order to spread malicious lies about Planned Parenthood,” Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said Thursday. “This lawsuit exposes the elaborate, illegal conspiracy designed to block women’s access to safe and legal abortion, and we filed the case to hold them accountable.”

Planned Parenthood's initial filing in the case asserts that Dalaiden and other CMP operatives fraudulently got access to Planned Parenthood facilities by using fake IDs and hiding behind corporations that didn't exist. In California, Washington state and Maryland, Planned Parenthood claims, the filming of the videos themselves was illegal, because those states require two-party consent to record a conversation. CMP personnel also created a fake tissue procurement company, BioMax, to get access to Planned Parenthood conferences, according to documents included with the lawsuit. Planned Parenthood claims that the fake IDs, surreptitious filming and fake tissue procurement company amounts to an illegal conspiracy.

CMP issued a statement late Thursday calling the lawsuit frivolous: 

"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."

Planned Parenthood is seeking an injunction against CMP associates entering Planned Parenthood property or filming Planned Parenthood officials, cash damages and attorneys fees.

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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young