The Planned Parenthood videos made in the “sting” operation by a group of anti-abortion operatives won’t be permitted in court. A District Court ruled Friday that the Center for Medical Progress could not have a TRO exception they requested in order to use the videos in a Supreme Court case.
The TRO, or Temporary Restraining Order, was issued in July, to protect the National Abortion Federation from the Center for Medical Progress. CNN reported at the time that this was in response to CMP operatives secretly recording video of NAF’s meetings — videos that were then heavily edited and publicly released to give the impression that NAF members, specifically, Planned Parenthood officials, were breaking laws in their handling and donating of fetal tissue from abortions.
Now, the group wants an exception to the TRO, allowing them to use the Planned Parenthod videos in an amicus brief before the Supreme Court in a separate case regarding legal restrictions placed on abortion clinics.
An amicus filing is essentially a statement from a party not directly involved in a case, declaring that they have information that the court should consider in that case.
In this instance, the case in question is Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt. According to the Center for Reproductive Rights, Whole Women’s Health will argue before the Supreme Court that Texas laws restrict access to abortions to an extent that defies women’s rights as established in Roe v. Wade.
The Center for Medical Progress intends to file an amicus brief in the case, sharing with the Supreme Court their position on why the restrictive laws should not be overturned. However, due to the TRO, they are unable to use the Planned Parenthood videos in this brief.
They requested a modification to the TRO, specifically requesting permission to use about three hours worth of audio recording from their Planned Parenthood sting.
United States District Judge William H. Orrick responded to the request on Friday, denying it in firm words, and further condemning the actions involved in the creation of the videos, directly connecting anti-abortion rhetoric and the videos to threats to abortion providers, and the shooting in a Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs.
“It is not necessary here to repeat the reasons I issued the TRO in the first place – the deceitful lengths the defendants went to obtain these recordings and the legitimate safety concerns of NAF and its members, made all too real by the targeting of individuals on the publicly
disclosed videos, the substantial increase in threats of violence to NAF members, and more
recently the tragedy in Colorado Springs.”
The Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood shooting that Judge Orrick mentions took three lives, and according to the New York Times, the suspect spoke of “baby parts” as he was arrested.
Orrick goes on to add that he has reviewed the recordings in question, and that the Center for Medical Progress has mischaracterized the statements therein; that they do not directly refute or rebut any stances that Planned Parenthood or the National Abortion Federation will make before the Supreme Court, and that the Center for Medical Progress can make its points equally effectively without use of the illicitly obtained videos.
Currently two individuals associated with the CMP, as well as the organization itself, are facing charges for crimes allegedly committed in the process of obtaining the Planned Parenthood videos. These include attempting to purchase human tissue (illegal under Texas law, even if the other party is not attempting to sell the tissue in question), and altering Federal documents, as the two individuals used false ID in order to gain access to the Planned Parenthood officials who appear in the videos.
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