The civil trial for the lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood against The Center for Medical Progress (CMP) got underway Thursday in San Francisco. The trial, in which Planned Parenthood is seeking $16 million in their 15-count civil suit against CMP — including defendants David Daleiden, Sandra Merritt, Albin Rhomberg, and Troy Newman — is expected to last up to eight weeks. Planned Parenthood argues that CMP must pay for security upgrades the abortion corporation made after the videos exposed their fetal body part trafficking scandal.
Terrisa Bukovinac, Founder and Executive Director of Pro-Life San Francisco, told Live Action News that an attorney representing Planned Parenthood, Ronda Trotter, focused her opening statement on CMP undercover investigator David Daleiden’s “recruitment of advisors and undercover actors (or ‘conspirators’) and their subsequent activity with hidden camera equipment.” Trotter failed to mention the research that CMP did after learning that preborn babies were being harvested for their organs through the abortion industry before beginning their undercover investigation, and instead made them appear, said Bukovinac, “as smear merchants fishing for a narrative.”
According to Court House News, a Planned Parenthood lawyer told the jury that CMP wanted to “use any means to destroy” Planned Parenthood, while Daleiden’s attorneys argued that the case is about the “powerful corporation” Planned Parenthood attempting to take down undercover journalists who created bad press for the abortion giant.
Defense attorney Harmeet Dhillon of Dhillon Law Group told the jury in her opening statement that, “This is what happens when a large corporation gets publicity they don’t like.” Bukovinac told Live Action News that Dhillon took Trotter’s claims that CMP breached contracts “head on,” noting that “Planned Parenthood was not a third party beneficiary to the contract between CMP and the National Abortion Federation” as they are claiming. Dhillon compared Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit to “going after a caterpillar with a cannon.”
Life Legal VP of Legal Affairs Katie Short argued for the defense that Planned Parenthood’s allegations against the defendants were simply “thought crimes,” according to Life Legal. She told the jury that CMP had to go undercover to gain access to the abortion corporation because “it’s hard to get at the truth from a distance.”
The first witness for Planned Parenthood also took the stand on Thursday. Jenna Tosh, CEO of Planned Parenthood California Central Coast painted “Planned Parenthood and its employees as caring and legitimate healthcare professionals targeted by anti-abortion extremists,” said Bukovinac. However, when under cross-examination, Tosh couldn’t recall key parts of the video of Deborah Nucatola, then-Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Senior Director, stating she would “crush above and crush below” during an abortion in order to keep the desired organs of the preborn child intact.
“She was caught off guard and eventually, after thinking about it said, ‘No, I don’t remember that,'” explained Bukovinac.
Short was able to get Tosh to admit that some of the so-called threats Planned Parenthood faced were not a result of the CMP videos at all, and that some of the threatening letters they received were nothing more than individuals saying they were going to pray for the abortion clinic workers.
Planned Parenthood is accusing CMP of illegally gaining access to abortion industry conferences and then breaking confidentiality agreements and engaging in mail and wire fraud. Bukovinac notes that there is nothing in the suit about defamation or slander despite Planned Parenthood’s public denials of fetal body part traffickings.
The judge presiding over the case is Judge William Orrick III, a known supporter of Planned Parenthood who served on the board of an organization that opened a Planned Parenthood facility in San Francisco. Orrick is still connected to that organization — which is still partnered with the Plaintiffs. He has been suppressing the release of hundreds of hours of undercover video footage by CMP with a gag order. According to Court House News, Orrick reportedly repeatedly told the jury that the case is not about whether or not Planned Parenthood profited off of the illegal sales of preborn baby body parts, but whether or not CMP is liable for fraud, breach of contract, unlawful recording of conversations, civil conspiracy, and violation of the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act.
However, Orrick also informed the jury that while it is illegal in California to record a conversation without consent, that law doesn’t apply if the person is attempting to obtain evidence of a violent felony. Daleiden and his co-defendants maintain that they recorded conversations in order to gain evidence against Planned Parenthood for illegal activities pertaining to the killing of preborn children in order to sell their body parts to researchers. Defense attorneys say the lawsuit is a retaliation against CMP for exposing the truth.
“[David Daleiden’s] actions during the deep cover probe of the abortion industry followed the accepted practices of today’s investigative journalism,” said lead defense attorney Peter Breen, Vice President and Senior Counsel at the Thomas More Society. “This lawsuit is full of vague allegations, claiming ‘deceptively edited videos,’ when the truth is that Planned Parenthood is upset that David Daleiden made them look bad by showing the world their disturbing and disgusting practices.”
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