Pro-life activist David Daleiden, whose undercover videos exposing Planned Parenthood's practices led to a congressional investigation, filed a federal defamation complaint against Planned Parenthood on Tuesday, arguing that the abortion giant lied to the media about his videos.
Daleiden, the founder of the Center for Medical Progress, filed the complaint in a New York federal court. He alleges that Planned Parenthood told the media that he and CMP “manufacture[d]” and “created” a “false smear campaign” when they released a series of undercover videos and transcripts showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing their willingness to engage in the illegal sale and harvesting of aborted babies' organs, tissue and limbs.
In his new complaint against the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Daleiden, represented by the Thomas More Society, says CMP’s videos show evidence of high-level Planned Parenthood officials discussing their “questionable practices in their abortion and fetal tissue harvesting programs.”
The complaint calls out PPFA Senior Vice President of Communication and Culture Melanie Newman and accuses her of issuing a statement to media on Sept. 18, 2019, that was published by Rewire News, an outlet that advocates for abortion. Newman was quoted accusing CMP’s investigation as a “multiyear illegal effort to manufacture a fake smear campaign against Planned Parenthood.”
On Nov. 15, 2019, the complaint adds, PPFA posted on its official Twitter account that Daleiden and others “created a false smear campaign against Planned Parenthood.”
The comments were made after Daleiden, CMP and other defendants were ordered by a California federal judge earlier to pay $2.3 million in damages to Planned Parenthood after a jury had found Daleiden and an associate guilty of crimes including creating fake government-issued identification cards, illegal recording and trespassing.
“In reality, as PPFA and its representatives recorded on the videos readily admit in other fora, Plaintiffs’ videos accurately record Planned Parenthood officials’ own shocking words spoken in real life,” the complaint contends.
According to the new complaint, PPFA has caused “substantial reputational, emotional, financial, and other damages” as a result of “objectively false assertions” made about Daleiden and CMP.
The complaint asks for PPFA to pay actual and punitive damages of $75,000 “to make Plaintiffs whole for the presumptive impairment to their reputation, personal humiliation, mental anguish and suffering.” The complaint also requests “punitive and exemplary damages, in an amount necessary to punish PPFA for its malicious conduct toward Plaintiffs.”
Daleiden is also asking the court for an injunction requiring PPFA to “retract and remove all false statements” about CMP and Daleiden on its Twitter page and made to Rewire News.
The legal complaint also seeks to force PPFA to issue a “publicly accessible correction of these statements.”
“Planned Parenthood is not content to make obscene financial profit by killing off America’s next generation and endangering pregnant women. Additionally, they feel that they must obliterate the reputation of anyone who dares to challenge them and suggest that what they are doing is not the great philanthropic work that they pretend it is,” Tom Brejcha, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society, said in a statement.
“Planned Parenthood’s very existence is an anathema to America’s pursuit of the most basic of human rights and they know it. We have not been surprised over their campaign to smear the reputation of Mr. Daleiden, but they are not allowed to falsely besmirch his reputation for exposing the truth.”
Newman told The Christian Post in a statement responding to the complaint that Daleiden’s claims are still “baseless.”
“They are just another desperate attempt by a discredited source to get publicity,” she argued.
“Last fall, a jury — with all of the facts fully presented to it — decided that David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress intentionally broke the law in a multi-year, malicious campaign to advance their goals of banning safe, legal abortion in this country, and preventing Planned Parenthood from serving the patients who depend on us. The result: Daleiden was ordered to pay millions of dollars in damages. And, he still faces criminal charges.”
Since 2015, Daleiden and CMP have released several full-length investigative videos that have shocked many in the pro-life community and angered abortion-rights supporters. Many of the videos show the abortion giant’s employees discussing how clinics received payments priced per fetal specimen and the ways surgical abortions are altered to obtain intact organs, limbs and tissue for research. Altering an abortion procedure for this purpose is illegal.
As a result of the undercover investigation, Republican-led congressional committees launched investigations into the practices of the nation’s largest abortion provider. The Trump Justice Department has also looked into the matter. The videos also reenergized calls to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding.
One of CMP's undercover videos from 2014 filmed at a Planned Parenthood workshop in Michigan showed an abortion provider arguing against helping children who are victims of rape and sexual assault. The speaker said that because clinic workers are not state employees, they should not be required to report known cases of child abuse to authorities.
In a report released in 2016, the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives found evidence that several tissue procurement companies and abortion clinics might have violated federal felony laws barring the sale of human tissue. The report included information on criminal and regulatory referrals filed by Republican members of the panel.
The House Oversight and Reform Committee, now chaired by Democrat Carolyn Maloney of New York, issued a statement refuting many of CMP’s findings, arguing that CMP's videos "include no credible evidence that Planned Parenthood profits from its fetal tissue donation program."
In October 2015, PPFA announced that it will no longer accept reimbursements to cover the costs of fetal tissue donations.