SAN FRANCISCO (Christian Examiner) – A U.S. district court judge in Northern California has issued a temporary restraining order barring the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) from releasing any more undercover videos of members of the National Abortion Federation (NAF) – including the leaders of Planned Parenthood.
In a three-page order July 31, Judge William Orrick III in San Francisco said secret recordings made at the abortion providers' associational meetings could lead to harm "in the form of harassment, intimidation, violence, invasion of privacy, and injury to reputation."
The judge also said the relief requested by the NAF in its claim was "in the public interest" and that he believed the federation would "prevail on the merits of its claims."
According to the judge's order, representatives for the Center for Medical Progress must appear before the judge Aug. 3 to answer why CMP, its leaders, attorneys and employees "should not be enjoined and restrained from engaging in, committing, or performing, directly or indirectly," the publishing of more secretly recorded videos containing confidential information learned at NAF meetings, disclosing the dates and locations of future NAF meetings, disclosing the names and addresses of any NAF members, or attempting to gain access to any future federation meetings.
In other words, CMP will be forced to argue for its right to free speech.
Orrick was appointed by President Barack Obama to the U.S. District Court (Northern District) in 2012, based on the recommendation of Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA), a strong pro-abortion advocate.
In its description of the judge's order, NAF said the judge had suppressed "recordings and materials [CMP] illegally obtained at NAF's educational meetings." "Illegal," however, was not a word the judge used in his order.
"We are grateful that the judge recognized the serious threat against NAF members and the necessity of this restraining order," Vicki Saporta, NAF President and CEO said in a statement following the ruling. "Our members can rest easier this weekend knowing that they are protected."
In the lawsuit filed in federal court, NAF alleges that Daniel Daleiden and CMP "boasted" about creating a fake human biologics company, Biomax, to gain entry into highly secretive meetings where abortion providers gathered – "one of the only places where NAF members can come together to learn about the latest research in the field and network without fear or harassment."
The group also alleged that since CMP began releasing its secretly recorded videos on July 14, the "victims" of the exposure campaign – the doctors discussing how to "crush" babies to obtain whole organs and an expensive sportscar – have "had their professional reputations trashed."
"They have been called 'evil,' 'vile,' 'inhuman,' 'baby butchers,' and 'a vicious demonic force' who deserve 'no mercy' and 'the hangman's noose.' Death threats have been leveled against them. One post stated: 'I'll pay ten large to whomever kills Dr. Deborah Nucatola. Anyone go for it,'" the filing said.
CMP issued a statement after the restraining order was issued, claiming the video "follows all applicable laws in the course of our investigative journalism work."
"The National Abortion Federation is a criminal organization that has spent years conspiring with Planned Parenthood on how to violate federal laws on partial-birth abortion and fetal tissue sales. The Center for Medical Progress will contest any attempts to suppress our First Amendment rights to free speech or silence the freedom of the citizen press."
CMP has now published four videos showing Planned Parenthood doctors negotiating the sale of fetal tissue, though the organization's president insisted afterwards that the funds were only reimbursement for the transport of the "specimens."
Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood's president and CEO, also said the videos were "selectively edited" to show the doctors, Deborah Nucatola, Mary Gatter and Savita Ginde in a bad light. To counter the claim, CMP has also published transcripts and copies of the full-length videos.
Legal advocates for the abortion provider claim some of the secretive videos produced by CMP were made in California, a state that requires consent before any type of audio or video recording can take place.
On July 29, the California Supreme Court also blocked CMP's publication of any more videos showing the employees or operations of Stem Express, a California-based company that trafficks in aborted fetal body parts. Stem Express's brochures promise high "profits" for clinics that provide fetal tissue to the company.