Federal Judge in S.F. Blocks Release of Anti-Abortion Recordings

Wednesday, August 05, 2015
Judge William Orrick

Conservatives in nine states have pushed through legislation that makes it a crime to film animal abuse in the food industry. They complain that the videos and their graphic images are edited to shock and mislead, while unfairly swaying politicians and the public on broader policy issues.

That is not to say that conservatives always oppose releasing surreptitiously-obtained, heavily-edited videos of disturbing subjects. They are protective of Big Ag, but have a fondness for distorted videos that attack social agencies serving poor people. The assault on ACORN, a collection of community-based organizations, 15 years ago set the standard and the recent stalking of Planned Parenthood is carrying on the tradition.

U.S. District Judge William Orrick, in San Francisco, temporarily blocked release of secret recordings made by a trending anti-abortion group of two closed National Abortion Federation NAF) meetings until August 27. The group sought a temporary injunction last week when it learned the cleverly-named Center for Medical Progress (CMP) had likely attended their annual meetings in San Francisco (2014) and Baltimore (2015) pretending to be with Biomax Procurement Services.

Irvine-based CMP is a darling of the right-wing these days for its guerilla assault on Planned Parenthood in Placerville, posting two heavily-edited videos of executives talking about the system that facilitates research on fetal tissue. CMP billed the videos as evidence that Planned Parenthood illegally, and immorally, traffics in baby body parts, from abortions, for profit.

It is no such thing.  

California Attorney General Kamala Harris is taking a look at the operation at the request of four Democrats in Congress. But that won’t stop its “sting” from joining the ranks of the Benghazi betrayal, Vince Foster’s suicide and our Kenyan president among the accepted folklore of half the nation.

It already received the seal of historical approval from Senate Republicans, all but one of whom voted for the Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015 last week. Joined by a couple of Democrats, that was good enough for a majority, 53-46, but short of 60 needed to defeat a certain filibuster. But it will be back on a regular basis—like votes to repeal Obamacare—sometimes attached to important must-pass legislation.   

The NAF is an association of doctors, clinics, Planned Parenthood affiliates and hospitals. The group argued to Judge Orrick that the release of the inflammatory videos would put its members at risk from the kind of aggressive abortion activists he is already familiar with.   

The judge will also be considering the legality of secretly taping other people, lying on documents to create a fake company, using fake documents to enter private meetings and editing materials to falsely malign people. He will also be hearing claims by the videographers that they are simply journalists exercising their First Amendment rights.

CMP co-founder David Daleiden told Fox News that Biomax Procurement Services “was a bogus company that misrepresented its identity” to film the meetings.

It granting the temporary injunction, Judge Orrick said the federation “is likely to prevail on the merits of its claims” based on evidence he had already seen. “NAF would be likely to suffer irreparable injury, absent an ex parte temporary restraining order, in the form of harassment, intimidation, violence, invasion of privacy, and injury to reputation, and the requested relief is in the public interest.”

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Judge Continues Order Blocking Release of Any Secret Video Tape Made at Abortion Association Meetings (by Julia Cheevers, Bay City News)

Judge Blocks Release of Anti-Abortion Videos (by Nick Cahill, Courthouse News Service)

Judge Blocks Release of Antiabortion Group’s Secret Recordings (by Bob Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle)

Judge Blocks Release of Recordings by Anti-Abortion Group (by Sudhin Thanawala, Associated Press)

Kamala Harris to Investigate Group’s Video Sting of Planned Parenthood (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)

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