Planned Parenthood Federation of America and ten Planned Parenthood affiliates, finding themselves the subject of unwelcome scrutiny arising from Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress’s investigations and reporting, filed a fifteen-count lawsuit (including thirteen state law claims) seeking injunctive relief, millions of dollars in damages, and attorney fees.

The Human Capital Project

Daleiden is an investigative journalist who founded CMP to monitor and report on medical issues and advances, including the use of fetal tissue for research. CMP advocates for reform of unethical and inhuman medical and research practices, including the buying and selling of fetal tissue from aborted fetuses.

Daleiden developed the “Human Capital Project” to investigate, document, and report on the procurement, transfer, and sale of fetal tissue and organs for research. These practices include the for-profit sale of fetal tissue, the altering of abortion procedures to obtain fetal tissue for federally funded research, the commission of partial-birth abortions, and the killing of babies born alive following abortion procedures.

Daleiden gathered information from many sources, including medical journal articles, transcripts of legislative hearings, and websites for tissue procurement companies. He also spoke with scientists, researchers, abortion providers, and current and former tissue procurement specialists, among others. He attended seven scientific and industry conferences and had several in-person meetings under the assumed name of Robert Sarkis of BioMax.

The Videos

Beginning on July 14, 2015, CMP released a series of videos of Daleiden and Merritt’s meetings with abortion providers and bio-medical company executives. Each release consisted of a short highlight video and a longer video containing all recorded conversations.

PPFA and many of its affiliates were the subjects of CMP’s investigation. From the first hours of its release to the public, this investigation has generated a tremendous amount of attention and controversy, including considerable negative publicity for Planned Parenthood.

The Lawsuit

Consequently, Planned Parenthood filed their complaint in January 2016 and their amended complaint the following March. The latter alleges two federal claims under 18 U.S.C. § 1962 (RICO) and 18 U.S.C. § 2511 (unlawful wiretap) and thirteen state-law claims. In brief, Plaintiffs alleged that Defendants’ publication of some of these recordings has caused them harm and that Daleiden and CMP’s surreptitious recorded conversations with various PPFA and affiliate staff at these conferences, clinic meetings, and restaurant meetings were unlawful.

Planned Parenthood seeks to punish and chill Daleiden and CMP from exercising their First Amendment right to engage in effective investigative journalism.

After a nearly two-month trial, on November 15, 2019, a San Francisco jury issued a verdict against our clients David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) in Planned Parenthood Fed’n of Am., et al. v. Ctr. for Med. Progress, et al.

Planned Parenthood is seeking revenge against David and CMP after they exposed Planned Parenthood’s horrendous abortion practices through CMP’s undercover investigation, the Human Capital Project. CMP’s videos shocked the country and led to Congressional investigations and referrals for criminal prosecutions over fetal tissue trafficking.

Evidence at trial included an abortion doctor admitting that they use specific techniques during abortion procedures to keep certain baby organs intact. Another abortionist stated that she “wanted a Lamborghini” as compensation for the sale of those organs. Unfortunately, the presiding judge, William Orrick III, is a big Planned Parenthood supporter. He did everything in his power to set the case against David and CMP.

For example, Judge Orrick repeatedly instructed the jury to ignore all evidence of Planned Parenthood’s illegal and unethical acts. Instead , the judge told the jury to focus solely on the legality of David and CMP’s investigative techniques.

The San Francisco jury ultimately found the defendants liable to Planned Parenthood for trespass, fraud, illegal recording, breach of contract, and RICO violations. The jury entered a multi-million dollar verdict against the defendants.

The fight against Planned Parenthood, however, is not over. The Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund and its co-counsel at the Thomas More Society are appealing this unjust verdict.

The First Amendment protects David and CMP’s journalistic efforts. The defendants were exercising their protected free speech rights when exposing Planned Parenthood’s crimes. The only supposed harm that Planned Parenthood suffered was a public backlash after David and CMP exposed the horrifying and illegal selling of baby body parts.

This was not the first time that journalists exposed abortion clinics for their criminal behavior in selling fetal tissue. In fact, the defense showed the jury a well-known ABC News 20/20 exposé, where ABC journalists went undercover with video cameras and recorded conversations with members of the abortion industry about prices of aborted babies’ organs.

Even though David and CMP used the same recording tactics as in the 20/20 exposé, and numerous government investigations confirmed the existence of illegal and unethical practices within the abortion and fetal tissue procurement industries, the San Francisco jury ruled against them. Judge Orrick instructed the jury to ignore or give little weight to any evidence of Planned Parenthood’s criminal acts.

Despite this temporary setback, the case is far from over. The Defense Fund is moving forward with its appeal to vindicate David and CMP and to expose the horrors of the abortion industry.