The civil trial of Planned Parenthood v. The Center for Medical Progress (CMP) resumed on Tuesday in federal court in San Francisco with two Planned Parenthood leaders taking the stand. They each testified to the fact that the screening process for exhibitors at Planned Parenthood Federation America’s trade show was “inadequate.”
Planned Parenthood is claiming CMP violated the “Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations” (RICO) law when CMP investigators went undercover at Planned Parenthood and National Abortion Federation trade shows and meetings in order to expose the sales of body parts from aborted babies. They have brought a 15-count civil suit against CMP, CMP’s undercover subsidiary BioMax Procurement Services, LLC, two former CMP Board Directors including Operation Rescue president Troy Newman, and investigators Adrian Lopez, Sandra Merritt, and David Daleiden.
The first witness on Tuesday was Dr. Mary Gatter, former medical director of Planned Parenthood Los Angeles (PPLA) and Planned Parenthood Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley (PPPSGV). She is well-known for her comment in the undercover videos of wanting to buy a Lamborghini as compensation for profits received by Planned Parenthood for fetal body part sales.
Terrisa Bukovinac, founder and executive director of ProLife San Francisco, told Live Action News that Gatter testified on Tuesday that she “made a comment about what I would receive in compensation […] I told them I wanted a Lamborghini.” When asked if the comment was in the context of fetal tissue donation she said, “Correct.” She also claimed that it was a “light-hearted” comment “not meant to be taken seriously.”
In addition, Bukovinac said Gatter claimed on the stand that the undercover videos highlighted the “worst parts of her conversation” and when asked if she thought there was any evidence CMP called for the physical harm of the abortion workers in the undercover videos, Gatter said, “They engaged in stochastic terrorism.” After this, however, she replied, “no.”
Gatter also told the court that she secured relationships with “all the academic institutions” in the area, including USC and UCLA. She said she partnered with fetal tissue researchers when she worked both at Planned Parenthood in Connecticut and California, and an email she sent to Daleiden as “Robert Sarkis” of BioMax said she was used to having a set fee per specimen. According to CMP, she also admitted that PPLA never complied with PPFA’s national guidelines regarding the use of an independent auditor to ensure fetal tissue payments were reimbursements and not illegal profits.
Gatter also said that while meeting in a restaurant with the undercover investigators, she “assumed the conversation was private” despite the fact that there were wait staff members near the table while she spoke about fetal tissue procurement. A clip of Gatter, Daleiden, and Deborah Nucatola (former director of medical services for Planned Parenthood) was played and showed them conversing in a public area. Gatter’s allegedly “private” conversations with CMP investigators took place in a cocktail reception in an outdoor hotel pool, a hotel mezzanine, and a restaurant. These are all considered public places, according to PPFA-issued conference security guidelines. Gatter said she did not insist on meeting in a private place and called the screening process for trade show exhibitors “inadequate.”
Jon Dunn, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties (PPOSBC) also took the stand. Bukovinac said Dunn testified that he paid reputation.com both before and after his medical director Jen Russo appeared in one of CMP’s undercover videos. He said he hired security 24/7 for three weeks. However, he did not provide any evidence of harassment or threats against him or his staff beyond “ugly” comments on the internet.
When asked if he was aware that the PPFA conference did not have confidentiality agreements in place and did not have a rule against video recording, Dunn said he was not aware and was surprised by this. He called the screening process for trade show exhibitors “inadequate,” Bukovinac told Live Action News. Dunn will return to the stand Wednesday.
Merritt was brought back to the stand to clarify a comment she previously made regarding her name badge at the conference. According to Bukovinac, Merritt commented last week that Briana Baxter of CMP must have been able to pick up her badge for her and that this was the badge Merritt placed in her purse before walking into the exhibit hall as seen in the shorter video. Merritt said she was able to walk around the exhibit without her name badge on. However, the longer video shows that it is Baxter’s badge that Merritt put in her purse. Merritt said she had based her original comment off of the shorter video as she did not recall all of the details of events that took place in the 500 hours of video recording she took part in, reminding the jury that it was six years ago.
The trial resumes Wednesday, October 16 in San Francisco.
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