Analysis Law and Policy

New Video From Anti-Planned Parenthood Group Almost Certainly Violates Court Order

Imani Gandy

The injunction from Judge William Orrick blocks the Center for Medical Progress and David Daleiden from publishing or disclosing “any video, audio, photographic, or other recordings taken, or any confidential information learned at any NAF annual meetings.”

The Center for Medical Progress, the anti-choice front group behind the ongoing smear campaign against Planned Parenthood, has released additional video footage surreptitiously recorded at one of the National Abortion Federation (NAF)’s private events, apparently defying a court order barring the organization from doing precisely that.

David Daleiden, the founder of CMP, began releasing videos in July 2015 as part of his “Human Capital Project.” Daleiden claimed that the video footage proved that Planned Parenthood employees were unlawfully profiting from fetal tissue donation and violating the “partial-birth abortion” ban.

Numerous investigations on the state and federal level have yet to find any wrongdoing on the part of Planned Parenthood. Daleiden and his associate Sandra Merritt, however, are facing criminal charges in California; the California Attorney General filed a criminal complaint and arrest warrant detailing 15 felony charges against Daleiden and Merritt, including charges for recording confidential conversations and felony conspiracy.

Almost immediately after the videos’ release, NAF filed a federal lawsuit against Daleiden, CMP, and his associates in federal court in San Francisco.

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NAF sought a temporary restraining order in that lawsuit blocking any further release of CMP’s attack videos, in order to protect its members from harassment and violent threats from anti-choice activists and domestic terrorists.

Judge William Orrick issued the temporary restraining order in late July 2015, and in February 2016, converted that TRO into a preliminary injunction in a blistering opinion in which Orrick said that defendants had “engaged in repeated instances of fraud” and that the products of the Human Capital Project “thus far have not been pieces of journalistic integrity, but misleadingly edited videos and unfounded assertions.”

The injunction blocks CMP and Daleiden from publishing or disclosing “any video, audio, photographic, or other recordings taken, or any confidential information learned at any NAF annual meetings.”

The video released Thursday—which has since been removed—features and names several NAF members, almost certainly violates that injunction since the footage was recorded inside an NAF private annual meeting.

It is unclear whether Daleiden is purposefully attempting to defy Judge Orrick’s court order by publishing the video on his attorney’s website, or simply doesn’t understand it. His consultancy firm, Steve Cooley and Associates, wrote in a statement on its website that the injunction prevents “David from posting any videos taken at the 2014 and 2015 NAF conventions held in San Francisco.”

Not true. While it is unclear when the new video footage was originally recorded, the order bars CMP from publishing any information learned at any NAF annual meetings—not just the meetings that took place in 2014 and 2015. The new video footage seems like a clear violation of that order.

“NAF’s Preliminary Injunction prohibits David Daleiden and his co-conspirators from releasing any footage they illegally obtained at our meetings,” Vicki Saporta, NAF President and CEO said to Rewire in an email.

“Yet, Daleiden and his agents continue to break the law in an attempt to target abortion providers and ban access to safe, legal abortion care. It is unconscionable that an officer of the court published this footage in clear violation of our Preliminary Injunction,” she continued.

“This baseless smear campaign has threatened the safety and security of abortion providers and the future of life-saving medical research. We will not rest until Daleiden and his co-conspirators are held accountable for their actions,” Saporta concluded.

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