September 21, 2015 — Last week, a federal judge ruled that an antiabortion-rights group cannot use the Fifth Amendment's protection against self-incrimination to refuse to participate in discovery in a federal case against them brought by National Abortion Federation, The Hill reports (Ferris, The Hill, 9/18).
Judge William Orrick, of the Northern District of California, issued a temporary restraining order against the antiabortion-rights group Center for Medical Progress earlier this year, after NAF filed a lawsuit against the group. The order blocks CMP from releasing any of its secretly recorded video footage of 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. In July, 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's order has been extended multiple times.
Last week, the 9th Circuit put a hold on Orrick's ability to change the current temporary restraining order into a preliminary injunction. The 9th Circuit ruling does not end Orrick's current restraining order on the footage.
Meanwhile, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has subpoenaed the release of the footage as well as footage CMP secretly recorded of Planned Parenthood officials (Women's Health Policy Report, 9/18).
CMP's founder, David Daleiden, previously said the organization planned to plead the Fifth Amendment. However, Orrick in a hearing said CMP must follow the court's order to turn over its documents.
NAF President Vicki Saporta noted, "It's telling that the defendants have been very vocal in the media saying that they have nothing to hide, yet in Federal court they want to plead the Fifth," adding, "We are pleased with the results of today's hearing, and are eager to move forward with the discovery process."
She continued, "Our priority is the safety and security of our members, their staff, their patients, and their families." She added, "Moving forward with discovery will help us take steps to ensure our members' safety during this period of escalating hate speech, threats, and criminal activity" (The Hill, 9/18).
NY Times Op-Ed Challenges Antiabortion-Rights Politicians
In related news, columnist Gail Collins in a New York Times opinion piece discusses federal- and state-level attacks on Planned Parenthood, writing, "Are the people who want to put [Planned Parenthood] out of business just opposed to the abortions (which don't receive federal funds), or are they against family planning, period?" Collins quotes House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who said, "'I'm telling you, it's family planning,'" adding, "'They decided that was their target long ago.'"
Collins writes, "Let's look at the even larger question: Can Congress really just move the Planned Parenthood money to other health care providers?" She explains, "Besides family planning services, Planned Parenthood offers everything from breast exams to screening for sexually transmitted infections," adding, "Many of its patients live in poor or rural areas without a lot of other options."
She cites Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), who "cut off $730,000 in Medicaid reimbursements to his state's two Planned Parenthood clinics, even though neither offers abortion services." She writes, "They do, however, provide thousands of women with health care, including screening for sexually transmitted infections -- a terrible problem in some parts of the state." According to Collins, despite the state's claims of many alternate providers for Planned Parenthood patients, there are only 29 alternate providers in Louisiana, "[n]one of which had the capacity to take on a flood of additional patients."
In Indiana, Collins writes, a Planned Parenthood clinic that was "the only place in the area that offered H.I.V. testing" in 2013 was forced to close its doors. Collins points out that since then, the governor "announced a ‘public health emergency’ due to the spike in H.I.V. cases."
In another example, Collins quotes Sara Rosenbaum, a professor of health law and policy at George Washington University, who found that when Texas moved funding from Planned Parenthood to other area providers, "'they were overbooked with their own patients,'" family planning services declined and "'unplanned pregnancies began to rise.'"
Collins concludes, "If an elected official wants to try to drive Planned Parenthood out of business, there are two honest options: Announce that first you're going to invest a ton of new taxpayer money in creating real substitutes, or shrug your shoulders and tell the world that you're fine with cutting off health services to some of your neediest constituents" (Collins, New York Times, 9/18).