Today the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ), along with its co-counsel, filed a petition with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals seeking rehearing in the appeal involving the undercover investigation of the abortion industry conducted by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP). In particular, we asked that eleven judges of the court consider this important case (otherwise known as en banc or full court review).
The ACLJ represents a former CMP board member in this lawsuit filed by the National Abortion Federation (NAF) as well as in another lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood.
The current appeal deals with a gag order, a preliminary injunction imposed specifically for the purpose of hiding information from the public and preventing CMP from releasing certain videos obtained during the undercover investigation. A three-judge panel recently upheld the injunction, although one judge dissented in part.
The three-judge panel’s decision conflicts with Ninth Circuit case law as well as with Supreme Court precedent, and we are asking the three judges to reconsider their decision or for the full court to rehear the appeal.
In 2013, CMP launched a project to investigate, document, and report on the buying and selling of aborted baby body parts. CMP used standard undercover investigative-journalism techniques, conducted extensive background research, and took careful steps to comply with applicable laws.
Working undercover as representatives of a start-up tissue procurement company, investigators attended several abortion-related conferences, including those held by NAF, and had many face-to-face meetings with abortionists to discuss fetal tissue procurement.
In July 2015, CMP began releasing a series of videos, including both the full video footage of recorded conversations and excerpted “highlight” videos, of senior abortion providers discussing practices such as profiting from the sale of baby body parts and altering abortion methods to procure fetal specimens.
The videos and the abortion industry practices they uncovered shocked the conscience of the American public. From the release of the first video until the present, there has been enormous public interest concerning what the videos exposed about big abortion.
The release of the CMP videos prompted the United States Senate and House of Representatives to conduct two, year-long investigations into the selling of fetal tissue. Committees from the Senate and House issued final reports this past December.
The Senate Judiciary Committee’s investigation caused it to make referrals to the FBI and Department of Justice to further investigate possible criminal violations by Planned Parenthood Federation of America, four Planned Parenthood clinics, and three fetal tissue procurement companies.
The House Select Panel’s investigation resulted in fifteen criminal and regulatory referrals to federal, state, and local law enforcement entities, including for possible violations of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act.
Instead of addressing the horrific practices revealed in these videos, the abortion industry attacked the investigative journalists who filmed them. Now Big Abortion is asking the federal courts to keep these videos under lock and key – preventing the American people from knowing the horrific truth. We are aggressively fighting in court to expose the truth and protect pro-life advocates from the warrantless abuses at stake in these critical lawsuits.
We will continue to keep you posted on this important case, in addition to the ACLJ’s vital pro-life work.
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