LOS ANGELES (Christian Examiner) – A Los Angeles Superior Court judge ruled Friday afternoon the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) could not be prohibited from releasing videos featuring StemExpress executives discussing the purchase and shipping of organs from aborted fetuses – some of which were fully intact.
StemExpress, a company that pays Planned Parenthood for organs from aborted fetuses and then ships them worldwide for "regenerative research," sued CMP last month and won a temporary restraining order against the anti-abortion activist group's release of videos which showed its executives discussing their business practices.
Now, however, Judge Joanne O'Donnell has ruled CMP enjoys the protections offered to other journalists under the First Amendment.
Within minutes of the decision, CMP posted a new video showing StemExpress CEO Cate Dyer laughing about shipping intact fetal cadavers and suggesting the shipping package should carry a warning label to alert those opening it that a whole "case" – an intact baby – is inside.
"Oh, yeah. If you have intact cases, which we've done a lot, we sometimes ship those back to our lab in its entirety," Dyer says to undercover operatives from CMP posing as representatives of human biologics procurement firm.
"Tell the lab its coming," Dyer states as she laughs. "They don't want to open the box and go, 'Oh my God!'"
Most of the new video has already been seen in other CMP videos, but the group promised its newest video features a lengthy dialogue with Dyer. CMP has also released a preview transcript of a larger video showing Dyer discussing the purchase and transfer of human organs.
In the preview transcript, Dyer is asked why she believes people at a lab would be shocked to see an intact fetus. She responds:
"It's almost like they don't want to know where it comes from. I can see that. Where they're like, 'We need limbs, but no hands and feet need to be attached.' .... Or they want long bones, and they want you to take it all off, like, make it so that we don't know what it is.
The undercover operative, posing as a buyer, then says, "Bone the chicken for me," and "then I'll eat." Dyer acknowledges that is what she means, according to the transcript.
"But we know what it is. I mean [laughter], but their lab?" Dyer says in the transcript. "And their lab techs freak out, and have meltdowns, and so it's just like, yeah. I think, quite frankly, that's why a lot of researchers ultimately, some of them want to get into other things. They want to look at bone marrow, they want to look at adipose- sort of adult human, kind of adult based sampling. They want to avoid publishing a paper that says it was derived from fetal tissue."
In June when CMP began publishing the videos from its undercover investigation, StemExpress executives understood from the angle of the videos that their company was likely a target, as much as Planned Parenthood was. The company filed for the temporary restraining order once they realized they had been secretly filmed discussing their operations.
Although CMP is now allowed to release the videos featuring StemExpress employees, the judge indicated that the anti-abortion group might have been in violation of the law by recording the conversations secretly. In California, the law requires both parties be aware of such activity.
StemExpress, which announced earlier this month that it had ended its relationship with Planned Parenthood, issued a statement after the ruling. The company said it was "pleased that the judge concluded it is likely The Center for Medical Progress and David Daleiden violated California's criminal law prohibiting the illegal recording of private, confidential conversations."
"In doing so, the court refused to accept Mr. Daleiden's self-serving testimony, stating it was 'less worthy of credence.' In concluding that CMP and Daleiden likely committed crimes, the judge also rejected defendants' claim that StemExpress broke the law, finding their assertions to be a mere 'ideological conviction.' StemExpress will continue to pursue its claims for damages and to hold defendants accountable for their illegal conduct. StemExpress disagrees with the court's conclusion today that a preliminary injunction is not an appropriate remedy in this case and is considering options, including an appeal."
Most, if not all, of the conversations between the CMP actors portraying buyers and the leaders of Planned Parenthood and StemExpress in California occurred in public restaurants in full view of other patrons. That fact may be what saves the anti-abortion group from the legal fallout.
California laws says the term "confidential communication" includes communications in circumstances where the factual circumstances indicate a desire for privacy. However, it excludes "any other circumstance in which the parties to the communication may reasonably expect that the communication may be overheard or recorded."