Judge Imposes Permanent Ban on Release of Undercover Videos of Abortion Conferences

David Daleiden, right, one of the two anti-abortion activists indicted last week, leaves the courtroom with attorney's Peter Breen, left, and Terry Yates, center, after turning himself in to authorities Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016, in Houston. Daleiden and Sandra Merritt are charged with tampering with a governmental record, a felony …
AP Photo/Bob Levey

A United States District judge imposed a permanent ban on the release of undercover investigative videos that contain recordings of National Abortion Federation (NAF) conferences.

Judge William H. Orrick III’s order declared David Daleiden, project lead at the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), to be in breach of contract with the abortion provider group for recording their conferences and also imposed upon the video journalist a permanent injunction that blocks him from ever releasing hundreds of hours of recordings from those conferences.

“NAF contends these are irreparable injuries that are not adequately addressed through remedies at law and that justify permanent injunctive relief,” Orrick wrote. “I agree.”

Orrick also dismissed CMP’s argument that its undercover recording of NAF conferences produced information that was in the public’s interest:

The public interest also weighs in favor of permanent, injunctive relief. Defendants argue to the contrary by pointing to the various federal, state, and local investigations that their HCP videos prompted, resulting in investigations, prosecutions, and regulatory terminations and guidance. Defendants do not, however, identify any NAF Materials specifically identified by or relied on by those entities that led directly to any of the prosecutions or regulatory actions. Defendants also neglect to mention that my personal review of the NAF recordings (those identified by defendants that, in their view, showed NAF members willing to engage in or admitting to illegal conduct) and other information defendants secured at the 2014 and 2015 NAF Annual Meetings, disclosed no criminal activity.

Daleiden had previously exposed the alleged sale of aborted fetal organs and body parts between Planned Parenthood and others in the biomedical research industry. He tweeted regarding NAF’s desire to keep the videos hidden from public view:

The CEO of the abortion providers group is Episcopal priest Very Rev. Dr. Katherine Hancock Ragsdale.

“This permanent injunction is incredibly important to the safety and security of our members,” she said in a statement, adding:

Without a permanent injunction, there is no question that David Daleiden would continue releasing footage from our meetings, which would result in cycles of harassment and violence against NAF, our members, and other abortion providers as we have seen repeatedly and consistently happen with each video release since 2015.

NAF continued that “Daleiden and his co-conspirators are the ones who broke the law, not abortion providers.”

However, attorneys at the Thomas More Society, who represent Daleiden, said in a press statement they will appeal Orrick’s order which, they argue, violates Daleiden’s First Amendment rights.

Thomas More Society Vice President and Senior Counsel Peter Breen said in a statement:

This permanent injunction covering up the release of incriminating video from a large abortion trade show strikes at the heart of the First Amendment. The American people deserve to see and hear what the abortion providers of this country are willing to say and do to skirt and even violate the law. We will appeal this decision, to vindicate David Daleiden’s rights and the rights of every brave undercover journalist in this country and to hold bad actors like the National Abortion Federation to account.

The case is National Abortion Federation v. Center for Medical Progress, No. 15-cv-03522-WHO in U.S. District Court Northern District of California.


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