Pro-life activist David Daleiden, the man behind last year's controversial undercover Planned Parenthood videos, appeared in a San Francisco federal court Wednesday to argue for a motion to throw out Planned Parenthood's lawsuit against him and the organization he founded.
In January, the nation's largest abortion provider filed a federal lawsuit against the Center for Medical Progress and its founder, Daleiden, claiming that their series of undercover sting videos that purported to show Planned Parenthood officials' willingness to break federal and state laws regulating fetal body part procurement and reimbursement was a fraudulent attempt to smear the company.
In response, Daleiden's legal team filed a motion to dismiss the case on the grounds that the Planned Parenthood lawsuit was nothing more than a SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) lawsuit that attempts to silence free speech.
The Christian Post was informed that although a hearing was held Wednesday at a federal court in San Francisco, a definitive ruling on motion was not given. Despite an unclear outcome, Daleiden's lawyers maintained optimism during a live Facebook broadcast after the hearing.
"We had a pretty positive day here. We had some recognition by the judge [William Orrick] at the beginning of the hearing that there are some weaknesses to the plaintiff's case, particularly in the key area of RICO," Thomas More Society attorney Peter Breen said. "That is something that has been used by those on the abortion side against pro-life folks for many decades now."
"One of the real issues is the other side is trying to turn the First Amendment-protected activity of undercover journalists into a racketeering activity," Breen continued. "It has never been done before and it shouldn't be done in this case. We are seeing some positive movement there. We are very hopeful that we are going to get a good outcome on that point."
In total, Planned Parenthood filed 15 counts against Daleiden and CMP. According to Life Legal Defense Foundation's vice president of legal affairs Catherine Short, 13 of those counts are based off of claims that CMP violated laws of various states, ranging from Maryland and Florida to California.
"We are arguing against a bunch of claims about the supposedly illegal recording and fraud and things like that," Short explained. "The claims are all sort of founded on the idea that ultimately, their damages are the fact that they were, as they put it, smeared, and as we put it, exposed."
Short said that if Planned Parenthood wants to claim that they have been smeared, its lawyers will need to prove that what was shown in the CMP videos was false.
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"All that is a First Amendment-protected activity and the precedents are very clear that you can't get damages for what people say about you unless you are going to prove that it was false and that it was malicious," Short said. "They have actually steered away from alleging either of these two things. They have tried to slip it in under the other causes and we are hoping to expose that and show that. They really either need to come out and fight fair — which is they want to say anything we said is false, go ahead and give a try — otherwise, pack it up and go home."
Short added that Planned Parenthood is also trying to seek damages for having to respond to government inquiries and investigations, such as congressional hearings, concerning the findings in the CMP videos.
"When you think about the implications of that, everybody has the right to petition the government, go to law enforcement, go to legislators, go to city council members and tell them about something that they learned," Short said. "Planned Parenthood is claiming that they are damaged by the fact they have had to respond to the exposure they got from the CMP videos."