Planned Parenthood has filed a lawsuit in San Francisco against anti-abortion extremists for their attempts to demonize the clinic by heavily editing a series of videos that claimed to show staff negotiating prices for foetal tissue donations.
The defendants, a group of six anti-abortion activists under the umbrella of the Center for Medical Progress, illegally obtained government IDs to access health centers and tape Planned Parenthood staff conversations, according to the lawsuit.
They then spliced the footage and released it to the public in July last year with the intention of harassing and intimidating staff and “the ultimate goal of interfering with women’s access to legal abortion”.
The video was seen by millions of people and gave Republicans fuel to pursue its plans in defunding the family planning provider.
Several high ranking politicians including Rand Paul and Carly Fiorina expressed outrage at the footage, with Ms Florina saying in July 2014: “It’s about profiting on the death of the unborn while telling women it’s about empowerment.”
The videos also encouraged hate crimes and violence against the centers, their staff and clients. The man who killed three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado in November mentioned the videos in a police interview.
“The people behind this fraud lied and broke the law in order to spread malicious lies about Planned Parenthood,” said Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America in a statement. “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.”
The unedited video of Planned Parenthood shows staff explaining that they do sometimes donate, but do not sell, foetal tissue for medical research and only seek to cover costs of transportation and preservation of the tissue after an abortion.
Multiple states have investigated the claims of the edited video and have found no evidence that the chain of health clinics sell the tissue for profit.
The Center for Medical Progress and its specified members are being sued for compensatory and punitive damages as well as legal fees. The lawsuit claims the defendants have violated the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organization Act and engaged in fraud, invasion of privacy, illegal secret recording of videos and trespassing.
The Center for Medical Progress responded that the lawsuit is “frivolous” and Planned Parenthood is under investigation by US Congress and law enforcement agencies - a claim that Planned Parenthood denies.
“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," a statement read.Reuse content