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Lawsuit: Group Attacking Planned Parenthood a ‘Criminal Enterprise’

Jessica Mason Pieklo

A lawsuit filed in federal court Thursday by Planned Parenthood accuses anti-choice activists of operating a criminal enterprise in hopes of ending legal abortion.

Planned Parenthood attorneys filed a federal racketeering lawsuit Thursday against David Daleiden, Troy Newman, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), and others, calling the organization “a complex criminal enterprise conceived and executed by anti-abortion extremists.”

The lawsuit is in response to a series of heavily edited videos released by the defendants beginning in July 2015. Those videos show conversations with Planned Parenthood doctors discussing the process for procuring and donating fetal tissue after an abortion. The videos were secretly recorded by Daleiden and others and accuse the reproductive health-care provider of violating federal law.

The attack videos led to investigations in a number of states run by conservative lawmakers, including in Louisiana, Alabama, and Texas.

To date, officials in 11 states have concluded investigations into claims that Planned Parenthood profited from fetal tissue donation, and each one has cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing.

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Newman, Daleiden, and others met in 2012 to concoct a scheme to secretly “embed” Daleiden and others within the reproductive health community and “expose” Planned Parenthood as violating fetal tissue procurement and donation law, according to allegations in the complaint. To do so, the complaint alleges Daleiden and Newman hatched a criminal enterprise that stretched over years and involved dozens of fake companies, fake identifications, and the illegal taping of providers and abortion doctors.

For nearly three years, Daleiden, Newman, and others used aliases, obtained fake government IDs, and formed a fake tissue procurement company, Biomax, in an effort to infiltrate private medical conferences and health-care centers, according to the complaint.

The express purpose of this criminal enterprise, according to Planned Parenthood attorneys, was to “demonize Planned Parenthood, harass and intimidate its dedicated staff, and interrupt its operations, all with the ultimate goal of interfering with women’s access to legal abortion.”

“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 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 complaint details Daleiden’s ties to radical elements of the anti-choice movement, including previous work with LiveAction, an anti-choice organization that attempts to produce undercover “investigations” targeting Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. Newman’s history with violent anti-choice extremists as well as his claims that murdering abortion providers is a “justifiable defensive action” is mentioned in the complaint.

The complaint alleges 14 claims against Daleiden, Newman, CMP, and other “unknown co-conspirators” including violations of the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, civil conspiracy, fraud, invasion of privacy, and a series of violations of criminal law.

Planned Parenthood is seeking an injunction preventing further release of any videos, along with attorneys’ fees and civil damages. That includes triple damages from Daleiden, Newman, and the other defendants based on Planned Parenthood’s RICO claim.

This is the second lawsuit filed against Dalieden, Newman, and CMP related to their campaign against Planned Parenthood. In July 2015 the National Abortion Federation sued CMP, alleging violations of California privacy law and other claims. That lawsuit is ongoing.

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