During the Planned Parenthood v. The Center for Medical Progress (CMP) civil trial on Friday, a National Abortion Federation (NAF) security associate revealed that the so-called violence against abortion facilities and abortionists by pro-lifers mostly involves trespassing – which may not even be linked to pro-lifers.
Executive director of Pro-Life San Francisco, Terrisa Bukovinac, told Live Action News that Michelle Davidson of NAF took the stand in order to describe the security concerns NAF and Planned Parenthood have complained about following the undercover investigation by CMP concerning the trafficking of aborted baby body parts. Planned Parenthood is suing CMP for $16 million to pay for security upgrades. They claim CMP took part in fraud, broke confidentiality agreements, unlawfully recorded conversations, and violated the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.
Attorneys for Planned Parenthood directed Davidson to a NAF document called “NAF Violence and Disruption Statistics” that was meant to show decades of “incidents” involving abortion facilities and staff. Davidson said that “the numbers tell a story” about abortionists as victims of violence at the hands of pro-lifers. However, on cross-examination, defense attorney Katie Short was able to show that these so-called statistics do not prove anti-abortion violence.
Short pointed out to Davidson that trespassing is the most common “incident” that happens at these abortion facilities, making up more than 70 percent of the total incidents reported as acts of violence. She also pointed out that attacks against abortionists from those who oppose abortion have sharply declined since the 1970s and 1980s.
“What story do these numbers tell?” Short asked. Davidson refused to acknowledge the decline in violence against abortionists and said that the numbers represented incidents. When Short asked whether or not the incidents each had a motive that showed pro-life violence, Davidson said that if the incident is part of an ongoing investigation then they don’t know if there is an anti-abortion motive involved. Short was able to point out that not only do the majority of violent “incidents” involve just trespassing, but that there is no confirmed knowledge that the incidents involving trespassing have anything to do with pro-lifers. She even used an example of one incident involving arson that was proven not to have been committed by those claiming to be pro-life.
Davidson also testified that NAF did not vet exhibitors and that, despite the fact that she was the security director for NAF, “We didn’t talk about vetting. Like I said, that wasn’t part of my department’s duties.”
The next witness to take the stand was professor and attorney David Cohen of Drexel University, who is on the board of directors for the Abortion Care Network and helped Planned Parenthood in its failed attempt to block a nationwide ban on partial-birth abortion. He authored the book “Living in the Crosshairs,” about abortionists and pro-life violence which used pseudonyms and false statements that he feels are protected by the First Amendment. For the book, he interviewed 87 abortionists from around the country and testified that they have been targeted for harassment but that this is not necessarily the norm for the majority of abortionists, which he said number in the thousands. He stated that some abortionists have to wear costumes and wigs and use fake names on social media or when making major purchases. Defense attorney Chuck Limandri would later ask him how it was acceptable and possible for abortionists to use pseudonyms without being charged with RICO violations but not CMP investigators. Cohen stated that he did not know.
Cohen also seemed to imply that a letter stating “Jesus loves you” could be considered a threat, but agreed that not all incidents of trespassing are violent. Limandri pointed out a Planned Parenthood Federation of America document that defined a threat as having a clear indication of physical violence. Limandri told Cohen that since he had done so much research in the area of abortion-related violence that he must have heard about violent attacks against pro-lifers — like the peaceful wheelchair-bound pro-life activist who was shot and killed because of the pro-life sign he was holding. Cohen had not heard of him. Limandri asked if he had heard of pro-life 86-year-old Ron Kanopaski who was assaulted outside a Planned Parenthood and Cohen said he had not.
Despite all of the alleged violence against abortionists, Vikky Graziani, project specialist for clinical services and former conference planner for all of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, testified that, as CMP founder David Daleiden had previously stated, the check-in process for Planned Parenthood conferences leaves much to be desired.
Graziani testified that she registered CMP’s undercover subsidiary, BioMax, for Planned Parenthood’s Northern American Forum on Family Planning in Miami without vetting the company. She took only a verbal referral from Dr. Deborah Nucatola, the former medical director for Planned Parenthood. She also claimed that NAF’s security procedures for exhibitors was the “gold standard” but that IDs were only used to match names. She said staff were never trained to determine whether an ID was fake or not. They wouldn’t have been checking for expiration dates on IDs, which explains why Daleiden’s fake, expired ID was accepted. She also said that she had no knowledge of NAF’s vetting process but assumed that NAF security had it covered. Davidson had already testified that NAF security did not perform vetting of exhibitors.
The trial continued today, November 4.
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