Why a Court Blocked a New Anti-Planned Parenthood Video

Planned Parenthood’s critics can’t release video that might have been recorded illegally.

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 28: Anti-abortion activists hold a rally opposing federal funding for Planned Parenthood in front of the U.S. Capitol on July 28, 2015 in Washington, DC. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) announced a Senate deal to vote on legislation to defund Planned Parenthood before the Senate goes into recess in August.
National Journal
July 30, 2015, 11:15 a.m.

A Cali­for­nia judge this week blocked Planned Par­ent­hood’s crit­ics from re­leas­ing a new un­der­cov­er video while the court de­term­ines wheth­er it was re­cor­ded il­leg­ally.

The court’s or­der puts the brakes on at least one more video from the Cen­ter for Med­ic­al Pro­gress, the an­ti­abor­tion group that has touched off a na­tion­al polit­ic­al firestorm with its ac­cus­a­tions that Planned Par­ent­hood clin­ics sell fetal tis­sue.

But the or­der is lim­ited, and won’t ne­ces­sar­ily stop the group from re­leas­ing new videos or re­cords al­to­geth­er.

(RE­LATED: Planned Par­ent­hood: Joni Ernst’s First Tar­get in the Sen­ate)

Cali­for­nia Su­per­i­or Court Judge Joanne O’Don­nell agreed to block CMP from re­leas­ing video of one par­tic­u­lar meet­ing — a din­ner with of­fi­cials from StemEx­press, a com­pany that col­lects tis­sue samples, in­clud­ing some from Planned Par­ent­hood, and re­sells them to phar­ma­ceut­ic­al com­pan­ies and oth­er re­search­ers.

StemEx­press says the video was re­cor­ded il­leg­ally; Cali­for­nia law pro­hib­its re­cord­ing “con­fid­en­tial com­mu­nic­a­tion” without all parties’ con­sent. The com­pany filed a law­suit Monday ac­cus­ing CMP of in­va­sion of pri­vacy and re­ceiv­ing stolen prop­erty, among oth­er claims. It then sought a tem­por­ary re­strain­ing or­der, fear­ing CMP was about to re­lease clips of its meet­ing with StemEx­press.

O’Don­nell barred CMP from re­leas­ing that video, pending a hear­ing next month.

(RE­LATED: Manchin and Collins Team Up for Al­tern­at­ive to De­fund­ing Planned Par­ent­hood)

CMP has ac­cused Planned Par­ent­hood of profit­ing from the sale of “body parts” from abor­ted fetuses — charges that have promp­ted new calls from con­gres­sion­al Re­pub­lic­ans to cut off Planned Par­ent­hood’s fed­er­al fund­ing.

The group has re­leased “un­der­cov­er” videos pur­port­ing to show Planned Par­ent­hood of­fi­cials dis­cuss­ing the price of cer­tain tis­sue samples — al­though the videos also show those of­fi­cials stat­ing that they charge a fee only to cov­er the cost of hand­ling, stor­ing, and trans­port­ing fetal tis­sue and do not profit from those trans­ac­tions.

CMP has not re­leased any videos fea­tur­ing StemEx­press yet, but the com­pany said in court fil­ings it knows there’s one out there. When the Planned Par­ent­hood con­tro­versy erup­ted, StemEx­press of­fi­cials real­ized they had also met with CMP act­iv­ists pos­ing as of­fi­cials from a bio­med­ic­al com­pany in­ter­ested in pur­chas­ing fetal tis­sue.

(RE­LATED: Sen­ate Will Vote to De­fund Planned Par­ent­hood)

CMP did not re­spond to an email about the court’s or­der.

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