Biggest Pro-Life Trial in 2 Decades: Planned Parenthood RICO Case Against Pro-Life Journalists Begins Today

By Cheryl Sullenger

San Francisco, CA – Today, Troy Newman and three of his co-defendants will walk into Judge William Orrick’s Federal courtroom and begin their defense against Planned Parenthood’s accusations against them in the biggest pro-life trial in two decades.

Planned Parenthood brought the case against Newman, Susan Merritt, David Daleiden, the Center for Medical Progress, and the CMP’s’ alter-ego, Biomax, in 2016, after the release of a series of undercover videos that revealed Planned Parenthood’s participation in the illegal trafficking of aborted baby remains for profit.

In an ironic twist, instead of Planned Parenthood being held accountable, the largest abortion organization in America have brought the pro-life journalists to court and accused them of corruption and racketeering.

The American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) is representing Newman in this case, who was sued due to his service as a board member of the Center for Medical Progress during the three-year undercover investigation.

Why this case is important

Despite the Planned Parenthood case and an earlier lawsuit filed by the National Abortion Federation (which is currently on hold until the conclusion of the Planned Parenthood case), the CMP investigation was a game-changer.

The ACLJ wrote:

In light of CMP’s investigative reporting, the United States Senate and House of Representatives conducted thorough investigations into illegal, unethical, and immoral practices within the abortion and fetal tissue procurement industries.

The resulting House Report and Senate Report contain shocking, first-hand evidence of unconscionable criminal and illegal actions by abortion providers and fetal tissue procurement companies. The reports contain, among other things, evidence of profiting from the sale of fetal organs (including the payment of bonuses for procuring organs that were highly sought after by researchers), altering abortion procedures for financial gain, performing illegal partial-birth abortions, killing newborns who survived attempted abortions, failing to obtain informed consent for fetal tissue donations, and fraudulent overbilling practices.

The Congressional investigators asked various law enforcement and regulatory bodies to investigate the offending organizations for possible criminal prosecution. Additionally, a $7.8 million court settlement was filed in California under which DaVinci Biosciences, LLC and DV Biologics, LLC admitted liability for their role in the unlawful sale of fetal tissue and stem cells for profit. Further, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission’s Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) concluded, based on the CMP videos and the Congressional investigation, “that [Planned Parenthood] at a minimum violated federal standards regarding fetal tissue research and standards of medical ethics.”

In fact, Planned Parenthood is currently under investigation launched by the U.S. Department of Justice based on criminal referrals made by the House and Senate committees.  On June 18, 2019, Senators Lindsey Graham and Chuck Grassley, current and former members respectively of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent a letter to Attorney General William Barr seeking an update on the progress of the investigation.  There has not yet been any public response, but one is expected soon.

The videos are also credited for providing the inspiration for the Protect Life Rule, which disqualifies organizations that conduct or refer for abortions from receiving Title X family planning grants. This new rule deprives Planned Parenthood of $6 million in tax-payer funding each year.

Case meant to punish pro-life journalists

Perhaps because of the outstanding criminal investigation, the civil case against the pro-life activists has been aggressively pursued by Planned Parenthood and its phalanx of attorneys from the powerful Morrison & Foerster law firm, which boasts of over 1,000 employees in 17 offices around the world, and a client list that includes, Intel, Yahoo!, and UPS.

The case has been anything but routine.  Due to a gag order and a designation of “for attorneys’ eyes only” on many details of the case, much of what should be said cannot be discussed in public at this time.

There can be no doubt that this case is meant to punish pro-life journalists from speaking out when they uncover criminal conduct within the abortion cartel, with the hope that it will act as a deterrent to any future abortion-related investigations.

What’s at stake

While there are no criminal penalties associated with this civil case, Planned Parenthood is accusing Newman and the other defendants of violating the Racketeer-Influenced Corrupt Organizations Act for going undercover at Planned Parenthood and NAF meetings.

Should they lose, Planned Parenthood is seeking seeking $16 million from the pro-life defendants in addition to potentially crippling punitive damages and millions in attorney fees.

This case could also forever change the way journalists collect information and conduct undercover investigations, which would stifle the First Amendment Freedom of the Press. The media are at their best serving the public good when their investigations uncover and expose criminal conduct, and aid in the administration of justice, just as Newman and the CMP journalists did when they uncovered Planned Parenthood’s underground baby parts trafficking business.

What to expect

Jury selection will begin on October 2, 2019.  The case is expected to last six to eight weeks. 

Operation Rescue is asking those who are so inclined to pray for Newman, and his co-defendants Sandra Merritt, Albin Rhomberg, and David Daleiden, as well as their attorneys during this lengthy trial.

Today, we are asking specifically for prayer for the jury selection process and wisdom for the attorneys. We are hoping to get impartial jurors who will fairly hear the facts of the case.

Operation Rescue will post updates as they become available.

View Operation Rescue’s Fact Sheet on Planned Parenthood v. CMP, Newman, et al.