The civil trial in the case of Planned Parenthood v. The Center for Medical Progress (CMP) resumed on Wednesday in federal court in San Francisco with Jon Dunn, CEO of Planned Parenthood Orange and San Bernardino Counties (PPOSBC), retaking the stand. Planned Parenthood’s former Senior Director of Medical Services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, also testified.
According to Terrisa Bukovinac, founder and executive director of Pro-Life San Francisco, prior to the jury being brought in, Judge William Orrick III heard testimony from both sides as to whether or not a video clip of Cecile Richards’ (former Planned Parenthood CEO) Congressional testimony should be played in court as the defense wanted. Defense attorney Paul Jonna argued the video clip was related to the upcoming testimony of Nucatola. An attorney for Planned Parenthood, however, argued that the clip showed a Republican congressman making negative comments about Planned Parenthood and he felt it would prejudice the jury. When Jonna volunteered to cut that part of the video out, Orrick said the video could only be played if Nucatola was unaware of Richards’ testimony and needed to be familiarized with it. However, when Nucatola took the stand and was asked if she remembered Richard’s testimony, she said she couldn’t. The defense asked Orrick if they could play the clip of Richards as they had spoken about earlier, but Orrick refused to allow it.
Back on the stand after beginning his testimony on Tuesday, Dunn watched as Jonna played undercover video taken during Planned Parenthood’s February 2015 Medical Directors Conference. In the video, Dunn’s medical director Dr. Jen Russo is seen at a table with defendant David Daleiden and several other people, including individuals who were not involved in the abortion industry. Still, she openly spoke about when her Planned Parenthood facility would use digoxin (“dig”) during abortion to stop the fetal heart before inducing labor.
“We dig at 20 weeks,” Russo said, but mentioned that they weren’t actually using digoxin at the time because there was a nationwide shortage. This is vital information because if digoxin is not given, babies could potentially be born alive during the abortion and then killed or left to die before being donated to researchers. Daleiden has testified that one abortionist told him researchers needed fetuses who were born alive.
When Daleiden asked Russo in the video about Nucatola’s abortion strategy to ensure intact fetal specimens for researchers — which included moving babies to the breech position — Russo stated, “We like to do that, too.” Jonna attempted to ask Dunn about Russo changing procedures, but Planned Parenthood lawyers objected, and Orrick sustained, preventing Jonna from continuing. Changing to the breech position implies that preborn children were killed using the illegal abortion method known as partial-birth abortion in which the baby is delivered to the base of the skull and the abortionist then stabs the child in the back of the neck and suctions out the child’s brain matter.
Dunn was concerned there may be threats when the video was released in 2016 and purchased subscriptions to Reputation.com at the cost of $6,000 each. He wants the defendants to pay $18,849 to cover that cost. However, CMP reports that Dunn acknowledged the CMP videos didn’t call for any violence or physical harm against Planned Parenthood.
Nucatola took the stand and admitted she didn’t know the vetting procedures for exhibitors at the National Abortion Federation conferences. According to Pro-life San Francisco’s Bukovinac, Nucatola also stated she could see the people at other tables near her during her lunch with Daleiden when she spoke of fetal tissue procurement and that “they could have heard what I was saying at the time.” She also said that she didn’t share “confidential information” during the meeting. She said she did nothing wrong.
Nucatola also testified that she had received a threatening voicemail after the video of her was released and that she was worried about her family’s safety so she set up a security screen for all of her messages and also hired an armed bodyguard on-and-off for six months. She also admitted that she has never kept her identity as an abortionist a secret and said she commits 50 to 500 abortions a month up to 24 weeks — or after, if necessary.
Jonna showed an email thread to the court between Nucatola and Melissa Farrell, director of research for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, Bukovinac told Live Action News. In that email, Farrell said she was suspicious that “Robert Sarkis” (Daleiden’s alias) was a fraud who could “put affiliates at risk” but Nucatola said that he could be trusted.
Jonna played a video of Nucatola’s deposition from March in which she testified that Daleiden should be held responsible “to those they damaged.” But when asked if she wanted Daleiden and the other defendants to be held responsible to her, she smiled and said, “They didn’t damage me.” These contradictory claims caused her to be impeached as a witness, her credibility lost, because in her deposition she testified to not having been damaged by the investigation, but in the trial stated that she and her family were damaged by it. She tried to spin it, said Bukovinac, by stating that she meant they didn’t damage her spirit.
In addition to these testimonies, the court played a recording of Deb VanDerhei of CAPS being questioned by defense attorney Peter Breen. In the recorded testimonial, VanDerhei admitted that other people could hear the conversation she was having with Daleiden while he filmed her undercover. However, she maintained that it was a Planned Parenthood “safe space” and therefore should be viewed as private. She said she, too, was suspicious of Daleiden but that Nucatola assured her he was trustworthy.
The trial continues Thursday in San Francisco.
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