Federal Judge Grants Preliminary Injunction to Prevent the Release of Additional Planned Parenthood Videos
WASHINGTON, Feb. 8, 2016 /Christian Newswire
/ -- The National Abortion Federation (NAF) has been granted a preliminary injunction by Judge William Orrick to keep David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress from publishing material recorded at NAF's annual meetings in 2014 and 2015.
Essentially, Judge Orrick's ruling came down to a balancing test that pitted Daleiden's First Amendment rights against NAF's assertions that continued publication of videos will result in "irreparable harm." The First Amendment lost.
Although Judge Orrick acknowledged that "debate on public issues should be uninhibited, robust, and wide-open" (quoting New York Times v. Sullivan), his ruling prevents accurate information from being included in the public debate on an issue of paramount importance.
Ironically, Judge Orrick justified this incursion on the First Amendment in part by reference to other protected First Amendment activity by third parties, namely Internet comments that he characterizes as "threats and harassment" against abortion providers. In a further blow to the First Amendment, he blames all incidents of illegal activity at abortion clinics since July on CMP and Daleiden's earlier videos releases.
Life Legal's opposition to the injunction centers on the public interest inherent in the videos. Because American taxpayers support a large part of Planned Parenthood's activities at a cost of over $500 million per year, the public has a right to know whether the corporation is engaging in criminal or unethical behavior. The public also has an interest in Planned Parenthood's callous disregard for the lives of children in the womb that is evident in the footage already released.
In his ruling Judge Orrick asserted that "the majority of the recordings lack any sort of public interest." Given that the investigators had to keep their recordings devices running at all times when they were at the meetings, it is hardly surprising that this is the case. But that is no excuse to suppress those recordings that do contain information of public interest.
"The videos have resulted in numerous Congressional and Senate hearings, the creation of a select Congressional panel to investigate Planned Parenthood's activities, and a historic vote by both the House and Senate to defund Planned Parenthood," notes Alexandra Snyder, Life Legal's Executive Director. "It is unclear from Judge Orrick's ruling what additional events would have to transpire to trigger the threshold of sufficient public interest in this case."
Judge Orrick cites select portions of the videos in which NAF affiliates discuss the potential profitability of selling fetal tissue as well as changes to the abortion procedure in order to harvest certain parts or intact fetuses, yet inexplicably concludes that he finds "no evidence of criminal wrongdoing" or even an interest in engaging in illegal acts.
However, in the conversations mentioned by Judge Orrick, clinic owners responded positively to CMP's offer to make the sale of fetal tissue "extremely financially profitable." In one example, the owner of an abortion clinic says that providing aborted babies "is a nice way to get extra income in a very difficult time." Providing fetal tissue for valuable consideration (i.e., "extra income") is a federal crime.
These statements cannot be dismissed, as they raise serious questions about the willingness of NAF affiliates to engage in illegal conduct.
Judge Orrick denied NAF's request to expand the injunction and granted Life Legal's motion objecting to NAF's evidence that failing to grant the injunction would result in "irreparable harm."
Life Legal plans to appeal the ruling.
About Life Legal Defense Foundation
Life Legal Defense Foundation was established in 1989, and is a nonprofit organization composed of attorneys and other concerned citizens committed to giving helpless and innocent human beings of any age, and their advocates, a trained and committed voice in the courtrooms of our nation. For more information about the Life Legal Defense Foundation, visit www.lldf.org.