Planned Parenthood Expands Lawsuit Against People Behind Fraudulent Smear Campaign

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Planned Parenthood Federation of America media office: 212-261-4433

Planned Parenthood Expands Lawsuit Against People Behind Fraudulent Smear Campaign

Two Additional Affiliates, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains and Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, join federal lawsuit against David Daleiden and CMP

“Women deserve to access basic health care free from harassment or threats of violence”

WASHINGTON - Today, two additional Planned Parenthood affiliates –– Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains (PPRM) and Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast (PPGC) –– joined the federal lawsuit against David Daleiden and the people behind the discredited video smear campaign that targeted Planned Parenthood health centers and staff. The expanded lawsuit builds upon charges that anti-abortion activists engaged in an elaborate, illegal conspiracy in order to block women’s access to safe and legal abortion. It details how David Daleiden and his co-conspirators maliciously deceived and trespassed on private property of both affiliates. It also expands the damages caused by Daleiden and his co-conspirators’ reckless actions and dangerous rhetoric, contributing to a hostile climate in Louisiana, Texas, and Colorado, that has enabled increased political and violent attacks against Planned Parenthood health centers and other abortion providers.

PPRM and PPGC join Planned Parenthood California affiliates and the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in this lawsuit.

Complaint linked HERE.

In Texas and Colorado, David Daleiden and his co-conspirators trespassed on Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast and Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains’ private property. They used false identities to enter sensitive clinical areas, secretly and maliciously videotaping without concern for patient privacy or safety.

PPRM and PPGC joining this lawsuit expands the scope of this case to include more of CMP’s fraud and the damage it has caused. The civil lawsuit they are joining was first filed in San Francisco on January 14, 2016 by PPFA and Planned Parenthood affiliates in California. The lawsuit outlines how the defendants – including David Daleiden, Troy Newman, Albin Rhomberg, Sandra Merritt, Gerardo Lopez, the Center for Medical Progress, and Biomax – engaged in a complex criminal enterprise to defraud Planned Parenthood and prevent the health care organization from providing preventive, reproductive health services to millions of women and men.

“Women deserve to access basic health care free from harassment or threats of violence. Health care providers should be able to serve their patients without worrying they risk their lives to do so. These anti-abortion extremists broke the law in order to spread lies and demonize Planned Parenthood and the millions of patients who rely on our health centers for care,” said Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. “As a result, providers have faced death threats, personal attacks, harassment, and more. David Daleiden and his co-conspirators spent three years building a vast criminal conspiracy, and another eight months spreading malicious lies, and we are holding them accountable. This lawsuit exposes their illegal conspiracy to block women from basic health care and criminalize abortion in this country.”

The lawsuit charges that CMP, its leaders, and co-conspirators engaged in illegal conduct that includes violating the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO Act) and engaging in wire fraud, mail fraud, invasion of privacy, illegal secret recording, and trespassing.

Over the course of nearly three years, Daleiden, Newman, and other principals used aliases, obtained fake government I.D.s, and formed a fake tissue procurement company, Biomax, in an effort to worm their way into private medical conferences and health care centers. They also illegally taped private professional conversations of doctors and other medical providers and spliced together shards of long conversations to create short videos in order to spread false claims that Planned Parenthood “sells” or profits from women’s decisions to donate fetal tissue for medical research. In fact, Planned Parenthood has never sold fetal tissue or facilitated fetal tissue donation in order to make a profit.

A small number of Planned Parenthood affiliates have offered patients the ability to donate fetal tissue for critical medical research that has led to important medical breakthroughs such as vaccines, and treatment for diseases such as Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Like all of Planned Parenthood’s services, this work operates under the highest legal, medical and ethical standards, with full consent of patients. To date, officials in 12 states have concluded investigations into claims that Planned Parenthood profited from fetal tissue donation, and each one has cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing. Another eight states have declined to even investigate, citing a lack of any evidence to suggest wrongdoing.

The malicious, distorted, and discredited videos that have been released over the last several months were timed to coincide with congressional votes to defund Planned Parenthood and enact additional abortion restrictions. Since the release of these deceptively edited videos last July, Planned Parenthood has seen a nine-fold increase in threats and criminal activities against their health centers.

“Words have an impact. You can’t implicitly condone violence without consequence,” said Vicki Cowart, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. “Nowhere is that more clear than in Colorado, where we have seen how dangerous a campaign of lies and incendiary rhetoric can be. But we will never back down from caring for our patients who rely on and trust us every day. We are rebuilding our Colorado Springs health center and we remain open, providing compassionate, high-quality health care. No matter what.

Planned Parenthood provides safe, high-quality, essential health care including life-saving cancer screenings, birth control, STD testing and treatment, sexual health information and education and, in some locations, primary care. Planned Parenthood also provides abortion services and ensures that women have full information about all of their options related to pregnancy.

“Extreme anti-abortion politicians who want to ban abortion have invoked these lies to fuel their efforts to pass extreme restrictions on access to reproductive health care,” saidMelaney A. Linton, President and CEO, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast and Planned Parenthood Center for Choice. “Even after David Daleiden has been indicted on a felony charge and these videos have been thoroughly discredited, women are still facing devastating consequences from these smear videos. These extreme anti-abortion activists acted illegally and then spread lies about our care. They must be held accountable.”

Planned Parenthood is asking in the lawsuit for restitution of actual damages, compensatory and punitive damages and triple damages for violations under the civil RICO claim, as well as attorneys’ fees. The lawsuit was brought by Planned Parenthood Federation of America and all seven Planned Parenthood affiliates in California and they are now joined by Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains and Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast.  Arnold and Porter LLP represents the plaintiffs. The lead attorneys on the case are Amy Bomse, Sharon May, and Jee Young You of Arnold and Porter LLP, Beth Parker of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, and Helene Krasnoff of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

Plaintiffs

    •    Planned Parenthood Federation of America
    •    Planned Parenthood Northern California
    •    Planned Parenthood Mar Monte
    •    Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest
    •    Planned Parenthood Los Angeles
    •    Planned Parenthood Orange and San Bernardino Counties
    •    Planned Parenthood Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo Counties
    •    Planned Parenthood Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley
    •    Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains
    •    Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast/Planned Parenthood Center for Choice

Defendants

    •    Center for Medical Progress (CMP)
    •    Biomax Procurement Services, LLC, which is the fake firm created by anti-abortion extremists for the smear campaign
    •    David Daleiden, president of the Center for Medical Progress, who created the alias Robert Sarkis as an employee of the fake firm Biomax and appeared in many of the videos. A long-time anti-abortion extremist, Daleiden is the former director of research for the discredited anti-abortion organization Live Action.
    •    Troy Newman, who was the secretary of the Center for Medical Progress. Newman is a long-time anti-abortion extremist who operates the group Operation Rescue. In 2003 Newman issued a press release claiming that the murder of John Britton, a doctor who provided abortion services, was “justifiable defensive action.” Operation Rescue operates the websiteabortiondocs.org that publicly lists the names, photos, and work addresses of doctors who provide abortion services.
    •    Albin Rhomberg, chief financial officer for the Center for Medical Progress. Rhomberg is an anti-abortion extremist known for harassing women who seek abortion services. He was arrested in 1991 for disrupting an ecumenical prayer service as part of Gov. Pete Wilson’s inauguration.
    •    Sandra Susan Merritt, who created the alias Susan Tennenbaum, claimed to be the Founder and CEO of Biomax, and appeared in many of the videos. Merritt previously worked with Daleiden on another anti-abortion smear campaign.
    •    Gerardo Adrian Lopez, an employee of Biomax who attended many of the private conferences and recorded participants.
    •    Phillip Cronin, a registered agent for Biomax, who provided assistance to the conspiracy.

To read the amended lawsuit filing, click HERE

To read a fact sheet on the lawsuit, click HERE

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Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is many things to many people. We are a trusted health care provider, an informed educator, a passionate advocate, and a global partner helping similar organizations around the world. Planned Parenthood delivers vital health care services, sex education, and sexual health information to millions of women, men, and young people.

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