A federal judge has denied an effort by anti-abortionists to release secret videos made of abortion providers, noting claims that the abortion groups were illegally selling fetal tissue was baseless.
U.S. District Judge William Orrick Friday rejected the contention that the Center for Medical Progress, David Daleiden and Troy Newman, acted as journalists and thus the material had First Amendment protection for the use of fraudulent documents and violation of confidentiality agreements.
After his review of hundreds of hours of video by the center at meetings by abortion providers Orrick said he found “no evidence of actual criminal wrongdoing.” No one in the NAF meeting or clinics “admitted to engaging in, agreed to engage in, or expressed interest in engaging in potentially illegal sale of fetal tissue for profit,” Orrick wrote.
Orrick granted a petition by the National Abortion Federation (NAF) for a preliminary injunction to block the center and Daleiden from any further release of the videos or transcripts.
This isn’t the only trouble for Daleiden and his group. In January, he and Sandra Merritt were indicted by a Houston grand jury on criminal charges of tampering with a government record, creating phony California driver’s licenses and attempting to buy human organs.
Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress released videos claiming to show officials of Planned Parenthood discussing how they profited from the sale of fetal tissue.
That touched off a series of investigations of Planned Parenthood, including in Congress, and political efforts to curtail its funding, which was Daleiden’s stated goal, according to Orrick. The claims also prompted a spike in death threats and demonstrations against Planned Parenthood and the NAF.
Beteen 1997 and 2014, NAF documented more than 60,000 incidents of harassment, intimidation and violence against abortion providers, including murder, shootings, arson, bombings, bioterrorism threats, kidnapping, and death threats. Numbers rose sharply after the center’s video.
The NAF sued after the first Daleiden videos were released in July 2015 in order to block further distribution.
Orrick initially issued a temporary restraining order barring CMP from releasing video or transcripts from the NAF meetings while he reviewed them. On Friday he issued a longer-term preliminary injunction.
Orrick pointed out his order does not stand in the way of releasing subpoenaed material to Congress and the attorney generals of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska and Oklahoma. But the center is required to notify NAF prior to release of the information to investigators that is subject to a subpoena.
Case: National Abortion Federation v. Center for Medical Progress, No. 15-cv-3522