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Judge Stops Release of Hidden Camera Footage of Abortion Providers
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After anti-abortion activists released video that allegedly showed Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of fetal tissue, a judge has ruled that additional footage may not be released.

Summary: After anti-abortion activists released video that allegedly showed Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of fetal tissue, a judge has ruled that additional footage may not be released.

  
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According to the Los Angeles Times, representatives from a company named Biomax Procurement Services checked in to the 2014 annual National Abortion Federation meeting.

Biomax Procurement Services provided brochures at their booth, and swapped business cards with other professionals at the meeting.

However, though they had provided their driver’s licenses at check-in, the group was a fake—even their names were false.

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Biomax was a disguise for the Center for Medical Progress, an anti-abortion group that triggered an outcry in July when it released secretly recorded videos that showed officials from Planned Parenthood allegedly discussing the sale of fetus tissue for research. The group also said that the footage was just a small percentage of what it has recorded over the past two and a half years.

On Friday, a federal judge in California granted the National Abortion Federation’s motion that sought a restraining order that would prevent the release of additional videos from the annual meeting, as well as a conference in Baltimore from earlier this year.



Planned Parenthood Arizona sued in 2012 to fight anti-abortion laws.

The judge also ruled that anti-abortion activities could not reveal the names or addresses of members of the federation. Activities are also precluded from releasing the dates or locations of any future meetings.

District Judge William H. Orrick III noted in his order that releasing this information would cause members to suffer “harassment, intimidation, violence, invasion of privacy, and injury to reputation.”

The Center for Medical Progress, a nonprofit organization, released a statement on Friday that said it “will contest any attempt to suppress our First Amendment rights to free speech” and that the National Abortion Federation acts as a “criminal organization.”

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On Monday, a judge will decide whether the restraining order may remain in place.

The present order is the second issued in the past week against the Center for Medical Progress. On July 28, a Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled that the group could not publish its video footage from a May meeting with Stem Express, a company that supplies fetal tissue for research.

On July 14, the Center for Medical Progress released footage of a Planned Parenthood executive discussing the sale of fetal tissue. Since that date, three videos of other employees have been released. Planned Parenthood maintains that no laws have been broken and that the release of the edited videos is a “smear campaign.”

Many Texas clinics have struggled to stay open after restrictions were enacted.

Selling fetal tissue is illegal under federal law. However, Planned Parenthood has argued that it only charges to recover costs of providing the tissue—a move that is legal, so long as the women who received abortions provided consent to donate the tissue.

Now, many Republicans have threatened a government shutdown in the coming months if Planned Parenthood continues to receive federal funds. According to NPR, however, the issue of collecting fetal tissue was largely settled in the 1990s with bipartisan support.

Planned Parenthood currently receives over $500 million in federal funding. Most of this funding is through Medicaid, the health program for those with low incomes. However, according to the law, no funding goes to abortion services. In fact, according to the Christian Science Monitor, abortions made up just 3 percent of services provided by Planned Parenthood between June 2013 and June 2014.

In fact, the Senate may vote as early as Monday to defund Planned Parenthood. Most Democrats object to defunding the organization, however, so it is unlikely that the 60 votes needed to advance will be obtained.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris is looking into whether the Center for Medical Progress violated any laws when it recorded the videos. In California, it is illegal in most instances to record a private conversation without each party’s consent.

Harris

Harris

During its motion that sought a temporary restraining order, the National Abortion Federation explained how it was tricked into allowing the anti-abortion advocates into the meetings.

When Biomax applied for an exhibitor booth at the annual meeting, it held itself out as a stem cell research and “biological specimen procurement” company. Its site called its chief executive, Susan Tennenbaum, “a passionate entrepreneur with a vision to bridge the gap between routine medical practice and cutting-edge medical research.”

Tennenbaum showed up at the conference with Brianna Allen, her assistant. Allen had communicated with the organizers and Robert Sarkis—whose real name was David Daleiden—the head of the Center for Medical Progress.

Tennenbaum, Allen, and Daleiden all presented fake identification as they signed in. In addition, they signed non-disclosure agreements that required promises not to record meetings or discussions. The agreement also required that they would not release other information about the meetings.

Last year, Arizona’s abortion law was deemed unconstitutional.

These requirements are in place to protect abortion providers, who have commonly been targets of intimidation and violence, according to the motion. Hundreds of providers, researchers, and vendors attend the annual meetings.

Once the Biomax representatives gained entry into the meeting, they socialized with the crowd. The two women wore loosely wrapped scarves, which are believed to have been used to conceal cameras.

According to court documents, Dr. Matthew Reeves, the medical director of the federation, recalled that Daleiden questioned him at the meeting, and said that Daleiden was “pushy,” asked “leading questions,” and kept an “unusual stiff posture” as the two spoke with each other.

Daleiden, in other interviews, has admitted that he hired actors to carry out undercover operations, calling these the “Human Capital Project.” Daleiden called the moves “investigative journalism” and said that hundreds, perhaps thousands, of hours of recordings have been compiled.

Source: Los Angeles Times

Photo credit: lifenews.com, sacramento.cbslocal.com (Harris)



 

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