Privacy Law

Racketeering suit is filed against anti-abortion group that released undercover videos

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Updated: The National Abortion Federation filed a federal racketeering suit on Friday against the anti-abortion group that released undercover videos in which Planned Parenthood officials discuss the sale of fetal tissue and abortion methods.

The July 31 suit (PDF) says the anti-abortion group, the Center for Medical Progress, created a fake company called Biomax Procurement Services to obtain an exhibitors booth at national conferences of the National Abortion Federation, report the Los Angeles Times and the Recorder (sub. req.).

According to the suit, activists posing as company operatives signed nondisclosure agreements barring them from making recordings at the conferences and from disclosing information obtained there. Connections made at the 2014 conference led to meetings that were secretly recorded, then publicized on “highly misleading” videos that were selectively edited, the suit says.

“This case is about an admitted, outrageous conspiracy to defraud,” the suit says, “carried out by extremist anti-abortion activists against NAF and its constituent members, and perpetrated for the purpose of intimidating and harassing providers of abortion care services to women, and to end access to reproductive health services in America.”

The suit cites a history of violence against abortion providers, and says release of the videos has spurred death threats against Planned Parenthood officials.

The causes of action include racketeering, civil conspiracy, fraudulent misrepresentation, invasion of privacy, false light publicity, breach of contract and trespass. The suit seeks monetary damages and an injunction barring publication or disclosure of confidential recordings, dates and locations of future meetings of the National Abortion Federation, and names and addresses of NAF members.

U.S, District Judge William Orrick III issued a three-day temporary restraining order on Friday that blocked the Center for Medical Progress from releasing videos taken at the conferences. On Monday, Orrick decided to keep the stay in place, the Recorder (sub. req.) reports.

The Center for Medical Progress released a statement on Friday saying it will fight any attempt to suppress its rights to free speech.

See also: “Sale of fetal tissue is legal, but prices for processing are a ‘gray and musty area’”

Updated on Aug. 4 to include information about the temporary restraining order.

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