August 3, 2015 — A federal judge on Friday issued a temporary restraining order against the Center for Medical Progress, blocking the antiabortion-rights group from releasing videos targeting the National Abortion Federation, the AP/New York Times reports (AP/New York Times, 8/1).
CMP recently released four misleading videos targeting Planned Parenthood that depict Planned Parenthood staff discussing fetal tissue donation. CMP secretly filmed the videos by meeting with Planned Parenthood staff while posing as buyers of fetal tissue.
Planned Parenthood has stated that the videos were heavily edited and that the filmed officials did not conduct any illegal activities. The organization said it does not profit from fetal tissue donations and only receives reimbursement for costs associated with such donations, which is legal. Meanwhile, supporters of Planned Parenthood said the videos are part of a decades-long campaign against the organization (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/31).
Last week, the Los Angeles Superior Court issued a temporary restraining order blocking CMP from releasing any footage featuring executives from a California-based company, StemExpress, which supplies fetal tissue for research. One of the videos includes commentary from an individual identified as a former StemExpress staff member (Women's Health Policy Report, 7/30).
Federal Judge William Orrick issued a restraining order against CMP hours after NAF filed a lawsuit against the antiabortion-rights group, the AP/Times reports. The order blocks CMP from releasing any video footage recorded at NAF's annual meetings in 2014 and 2015, as well as from releasing dates of NAF's future meetings and the names and addresses of NAF members.
NAF requested the restraining order against the videos on Friday in a San Francisco-based federal court, charging that CMP had infiltrated NAF meetings and recorded NAF members. The group alleged the members could be in danger if the videos are released.
In his order, Orrick wrote that NAF could suffer irreparable harm "in the form of harassment, intimidation, violence, invasion of privacy, and injury to reputation" if the videos were released. Orrick also wrote that NAF has demonstrated a strong likelihood that it would prevail in the case because it "made it clear both in its written documents and also all kinds of other releases how important it was that everything about the meeting be confidential" (AP/New York Times, 8/1).
According to Reuters, the order is effective pending a hearing scheduled for Monday. In addition to blocking the videos, NAF is seeking punitive and compensatory damages (Stempel, Reuters, 7/31).
NAF President and CEO Vicki Saporta said, "The safety and security of our members is our top priority. That security has been compromised by the illegal activities of a group with ties to those who believe it is justifiable to murder abortion providers."
Meanwhile, David Daleiden, a CMP leader who was named in the suit, said CMP "follows all applicable laws in the course of our investigative journalism work" (AP/New York Times, 8/1).