- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 7, 2016

Planned Parenthood filed a federal lawsuit against the University of Washington and pro-life activist David Daleiden to halt the release of public documents.

Mr. Daleiden, who spearheaded the undercover Center for Medical Progress video series, made a public records request in February for documents detailing transactions between the university’s Birth Defects Research Center and Planned Parenthood.

The university had planned to release the documents Friday, but Planned Parenthood filed a federal class-action lawsuit two days earlier to suppress their release.

The Center for Medical Progress said the documents shed light on a taxpayer-funded “fetal harvesting service at the University of Washington.”

“The American people, whose tax dollars make this entire barbaric industry possible, deserve to know the truth,” the Center for Medical Progress said in a statement.

The class-action lawsuit claims to represent as many as 150 plaintiffs associated with Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and Idaho, the Planned Parenthood Federation for America, the Birth Defects Research Center and other groups.

The lawsuit charges that the open-records request, by releasing plaintiffs’ home addresses and telephone numbers, would violate their constitutional right to privacy and the Washington Public Records Act.

Planned Parenthood also accuses Mr. Daleiden of attempting to uncover its employees’ and associates’ personal information for nefarious purposes.

Peter Breen, a lawyer with the Thomas More Society, which represents Mr. Daleiden, said his client has no interest in the personal information of Planned Parenthood’s personnel or business partners.

“David didn’t request personal information, so if the University of Washington is in the practice of handing our people’s personal cellphone information in their open-records responses, that’s something that someone in the state of Washington needs to look at,” Mr. Breen said.

He said Planned Parenthood’s motive for the lawsuit looks like a “smoke screen” to hide information from the public view.

U.S. District Court Judge James L. Robart issued a temporary restraining order on the release of the documents, which will expire in two weeks. A preliminary injunction hearing has been scheduled for Aug. 19.

A spokesperson from Planned Parenthood could not be reached for comment before press time. The abortion provider has denied profiting from the sale of fetal body parts from abortions. Planned Parenthood has also questioned the authenticity of the videos.

A Washington state investigation into Planned Parenthood in the wake of the Center for Medical Progress video series found “no evidence of any violations and no basis for further review.”

The Birth Defects Research Laboratory has said costs associated with the purchase of fetal tissue were reimbursements for transportation and storage.

The laboratory serves as a clearinghouse for fetal tissue donated by Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics, storing samples and then distributing them across the country to research centers. It receives nearly $700,000 in annual funding from the National Institutes of Health.

This is the fourth lawsuit Planned Parenthood has filed against Mr. Daleiden stemming from his undercover video series, which launched a congressional and several state investigations into the abortion provider.

Mr. Daleiden was cleared last month of two charges in Texas, including a second-degree felony for tampering with a governmental record — using a fake ID — and for illicitly attempting to purchase fetal tissue through a fake company he created as a part of the investigation.

• Bradford Richardson can be reached at brichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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