The company that allegedly partnered with Planned Parenthood in the harvesting of body parts of aborted babies is dropping its lawsuit against the undercover journalist who recorded conversations about its activities.
For-profit California company StemExpress has backed off its lawsuit against David Daleiden, the project lead at Center for Medical Progress (CMP). In the summer of 2015, Daleiden released a series of videos in which he posed as an executive of a new biomedical company as he interviewed top officials from Planned Parenthood and StemExpress about their fetal tissue practices over business lunches.
The lawsuit’s dismissal comes as the Senate Judiciary Committee has referred StemExpress and Planned Parenthood to the FBI and the U.S. Justice Department for potential criminal prosecution. The House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives has also referred StemExpress to the Justice Department and the Department of Health and Human Services for possible violations of laws and regulations. According to federal law, the sale or purchase of human fetal tissue is a federal felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison or a fine of up to $500,000.
In August of 2015, StemExpress’ request for a gag order was denied and CMP released its video footage. Less than a month later, StemExpress’ attorneys said the company wanted to settle the case. Within a year, however, the attorneys for the procurement company withdrew from representing StemExpress.
“StemExpress was the first of Planned Parenthood’s accomplices to file a retaliatory lawsuit against citizen journalists and the first to seek an unconstitutional prior restraint on our First Amendment rights to speak and publish,” notes Daleiden in a press statement. “Now, the video is out for all the world to see, StemExpress faces criminal referral in multiple jurisdictions, and they are walking away from their own lawsuit empty-handed.”
In May of 2016, the House panel issued subpoenas to StemExpress in order to obtain the company’s accounting and banking records, but received no response.
“Documents uncovered by our investigation so far point to the very troubling possibility that StemExpress may have violated federal law by profiting from the sale of baby body parts,” panel chairman Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) said at the time. “We have learned that not only is this investigation warranted, but further examination of accounting records is needed to get the complete facts about what was actually going on.”
The panel suggested the company had engaged in widespread document destruction, and was now in violation of document retention rules and congressional subpoenas.
“StemExpress’ surrender sends an unmistakable message to Planned Parenthood, the National Abortion Federation, and all their political cronies who would dare to attack the First Amendment to cover up their crimes,” Daleiden said.
Chuck LiMandri of the Freedom of Conscience Defense Fund – which represents CMP – said in a statement that StemExpress’ decision to drop the lawsuit at this point in time is significant.
“The dismissal of this lawsuit, on the eve of an important hearing and in the wake of criminal referrals, shows that StemExpress’s time is up,” he said. “[CEO] Cate Dyer and StemExpress would pay $55 for a fetal brain, and then turn around and sell it for $3,340. If you do that, you can hire a lot of attorneys to show up propaganda lawsuits aimed — not at vindicating legal rights — but at influencing public opinion.”
“Propaganda lawsuits are expensive and StemExpress decided this one was no longer worth the money,” LiMandri continued. “Hopefully, when Congress removes Planned Parenthood’s $500 million annual tax revenue stream, we’ll see Planned Parenthood rethinking the merit of its own propaganda lawsuit against David Daleiden and CMP.”