Anti-Abortion Videos Might Be Released

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A biomedical company got some bad news in its bid to stop anti-abortion activists from releasing new video of a secretly recorded conversation about sale of fetal tissue.
The Center for Medical Progress, whose members posed as medical researchers to gain access to Planned Parenthood and other offices, has released four secretly filmed video of Planned Parenthood officials discussing sale of fetal tissue, igniting renewed national debate.
Republican senators tried to strip Planned Parenthood’s federal funding on Aug. 3, but the attempt failed in a 53-46 vote. Three Southern states have killed or tried to kill Planned Parenthood funding since the latest controversy erupted.
StemExpress, a small life sciences company that sells specimens to biomedical researchers, and its founder Catherine Dyer sued the CMP in Los Angeles Superior Court for invasion of privacy on July 27. The Placerville, Calif.-based company asked for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction to stop CMP from publishing the video.
StemExpress announced last week that it was severing its relationship with Planned Parenthood.
“We value our various partnerships but, due to the increased questions that have arisen over the past few weeks, we feel it prudent to terminate activities with Planned Parenthood,” StemExpress said in an Aug. 15 statement.
On July 28, L.A. Superior Court Judge Joanne O’Donnell issued a temporary restraining order barring CMP from disseminating the StemExpress video.
But in an Aug. 13 ruling denying StemExpress’s motion to conduct pretrial discovery, O’Donnell suggested she is unlikely to grant its request for a preliminary injunction.
“Plaintiff does not persuade the court that the discovery it seeks is necessary to obtain the preliminary injunction,” O’Donnell wrote. “That is because it appears unlikely that the court is going to grant the preliminary injunction.”
O’Donnell said an injunction would constitute prior restraint on CMP’s First Amendment rights and that the alleged violation of privacy laws would not prohibit CMP from disclosing the information it obtained.
A show-cause hearing on the motion for preliminary injunction has been set for Friday.
“We have the hearing this Friday, but based on what (the judge) said, it’s highly unlikely she’d grant the preliminary injunction,” said CMP attorney Charles LiMandri, of Freedom of Conscience Defense in Rancho Santa Fe.
LiMandri said he expects the judge will deny the request for an injunction and that CMP will release the video even as StemExpress seeks monetary damages for invasion of privacy.
CMP filed an anti-SLAPP motion against StemExpress on Aug. 4, calling its filming “quintessential newsgathering protected by the First Amendment.”
LiMandri said that StemExpress attorneys did not file a reply brief to CMP’s opposition to the preliminary injunction, signaling that they view the quest for an injunction a “lost cause.”
StemExpress’s attorney Charles Weir, with McDermott, Will & Emery in Los Angeles, did not immediately return requests for comment. A StemExpress spokesman declined to comment on the case.
In a separate federal lawsuit against the CMP in July, U.S. District Judge William Orrick issued a temporary restraining order barring the group from releasing another set of secretly recorded videos.
On Aug. 18, the CMP filed a motion to dismiss the complaint from the National Abortion Federation, alleging failure to state a claim, California anti-SLAPP law and prior restraint.
A hearing on CMP’s motion to dismiss is scheduled for Sept. 21. A discovery hearing in that case is set for Friday in San Francisco.

%d bloggers like this: