Two Briefs Filed in Fight to Expose Illegal Abortion Practices


June 16, 2016

6 min read

Pro Life



Last summer, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) began to release a series of videos documenting criminal and other illegal acts of abortion providers, medical researchers, and fetal tissue procurement companies after the group spent a few years compiling an extensive collection of videos and documentation concerning their practices and policies.

Various civil and criminal investigations of the illegal practices exposed by CMP - such as profiting from the sale of fetal organs, manipulating abortion procedures in order to maximize the number of fetal organs that can be harvested, and failing to properly obtain the mother’s consent - are still ongoing. A Congressional Select Investigative Panel continues to review the numerous ways in which federal abortion and fetal tissue donation laws are being broken.

The abortion industry has desperately tried to suppress and delegitimize the work of CMP, including through the use of litigation. We represent former CMP board member Troy Newman – who is also the President of Operation Rescue – in lawsuits filed by the National Abortion Federation (NAF) as well as Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) and numerous Planned Parenthood affiliates, and we recently filed briefs in both cases.

In the NAF case, the trial court issued a preliminary injunction that prevents the defendants from publishing videos or materials relating to NAF conferences, or sharing such information with anyone, including state Attorneys General or local law enforcement officers, while the case moves forward. The defendants have appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals to the Ninth Circuit, and we recently filed a reply brief (under seal by court order) that emphasizes that government investigators, and the general public, have a compelling interest in being able to review the videos and materials themselves.

In the PPFA case, we recently filed a reply brief supporting our motion to dismiss the lawsuit. Our brief explains that all of the claims – such as wire fraud, racketeering, and breach of contract – are meritless, so the case should be dismissed. A hearing on the motion is set for July 6.

While these cases have continued to remain in the public eye, there is a lot of misinformation still being passed around in an attempt to help the abortion industry save face. The most common myth is that the videos were deceptively edited to falsely make it appear that members of the abortion, medical research, and fetal tissue procurement industries were committing crimes.

CMP released multiple full-length videos – some over two hours in length – that include relevant conversations from start to finish. In light of the fact that virtually no one wants to participate in, let alone hear, a two hour long conversation, CMP also released shorter highlight videos that focused on key parts of the conversations that deal most directly with illegal activities.

Rather than addressing the substance of the evidence of illegal activity, however, CMP opponents have resorted to the mantra that the videos were “deceptively edited” to make it look like criminal activities were occurring. This mantra is false. The short versions of the videos are no different than a news channel showing a couple of the most intriguing clips of a soon to be aired hour-long interview in a 30-second promo.

To illustrate, the second released video entailed a lunch meeting with Dr. Mary Gatter, Medical Director of a California PP affiliate, which included a lot of off-topic conversation as well as extensive haggling over the specific prices she could get for “donating” various fetal organs. Although it is a federal crime to make any profit from the donation of fetal tissue, Gatter never once tied her price negotiations for fetal organs to the cost of transferring them to researchers.

As the meeting was about to conclude, Gatter infamously joked “I want a Lamborghini” – as in, an exotic car costing upwards of $200,000 – cementing the undeniable fact that, in her mind, she had just closed a lucrative business deal that would net her countless thousands of dollars in pure profit. As we have explained to the Ninth Circuit, there is voluminous evidence of other criminal acts that CMP is currently prevented from discussing, or sharing with law enforcement officials, due to the NAF injunction.

CMP critics also seek to draw attention away from the substance of the evidence of criminal acts occurring within the abortion and fetal tissue research industries by seeking to discredit CMP’s investigative tactics. A bogus criminal charge against CMP investigator David Daleiden was recently thrown out, which is not surprising since CMP complied with all federal, state, and local laws throughout its investigation.

Critiques of CMP’s investigative tactics are meritless because CMP’s work follows in the footsteps of a rich tradition of undercover journalism that seeks to bring important matters of public interest to light that would otherwise remain hidden.

Over a century ago, Upton Sinclair’s novel “The Jungle” was based on appalling things that he saw while working incognito in the meatpacking industry, and numerous journalists have since employed similar tactics – now with the aid of recording devices – to expose illegal, unethical, or unsafe practices concerning everything from animal abuse to shady business practices to online child predators.

There’s an old saying that it “all depends on whose ox is being gored,” meaning that one’s position tends to change when self-interest is at stake. For the most outspoken abortion advocates who support investigative journalism in many other instances – and also support the publication of videos surreptitiously taken inside of pro-life crisis pregnancy centers by pro-abortion groups in an attempt to discredit them – few oxen are as sacred as abortion. In any event, no amount of myths about CMP’s work can change the fact that attempting to get top dollar for the sale of the body parts of babies, as if they were no different than used car parts, is an unspeakably heinous criminal act that should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

We will continue to vigorously defend our client and the public’s compelling interest in having full access to the important work of CMP as the NAF and PPFA cases move forward.