- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 14, 2016

Planned Parenthood filed a federal lawsuit Thursday against the group whose undercover videos dented the abortion provider’s image and threatened its public funding, saying the Center for Medical Progress lied its way into secret meetings to record conversations with clinic officials.

CMP said the lawsuit was a sign of desperation, but Planned Parenthood and its allies said filing the suit was a major step in trying to restore the reputation of the embattled network of clinics that dominate the birth control and abortion market in the U.S.

Planned Parenthood accused CMP of a conspiracy under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, which was designed to go after mobsters, but in recent years has been turned on pro-life groups.

CMP videos, released over the summer, appear to show Planned Parenthood officials negotiating the price of tissue taken from aborted fetuses.

Such sales are legal under federal law as long as they are done at cost, and not to make a profit, and Planned Parenthood says it abided by all of those rules.

“Many women who have made the decision to have an abortion appreciate the opportunity to further medical research through tissue donation,” Planned Parenthood said in the lawsuit. “There is no financial gain for women or health care providers involved in tissue donation, and the few Planned Parenthood affiliates that have facilitated fetal tissue donation have done so solely for the benefit of medical research.”

Planned Parenthood also said the videos themselves were edited to cut out important information and to make it appear as if clinic officials were saying things they didn’t actually say.

CMP called the lawsuit “frivolous” retaliation, and said the undercover video was protected by the First Amendment’s freedom of the press.

“Planned Parenthood is under investigation by the United States Congress and multiple law enforcement agencies, while their business is drying up and the public is turning against their barbaric abortion for baby parts trade,” CMP said in a statement.

The new lawsuit was filed in federal district court in California. CMP is already facing another lawsuit in the same court, filed by the National Abortion Federation, that has prevented the group from releasing still other undercover videos from film taken at NAF meetings.

Still, those recordings have been turned over to Congress, where the House has set up a special committee to investigate Planned Parenthood.

In the wake of the videos, a number of states have cut off their funds that flow to Planned Parenthood. But federal funding, totaling about $500 million a year, remains intact after President Obama threatened to veto all government funding if Republicans tried to strip out the clinics’ money.

Planned Parenthood said CMP went to great lengths to gain access to its officials, printing up fake business cards and manufacturing phony California driver’s licenses to establish their bona fides as fetal tissue buyers from BioMax Procurement Services LLC, a made-up company.

Once the group was granted access to be an exhibitor at a Planned Parenthood conference, that opened more doors with clinic officials.

Planned Parenthood lodged 14 complaints in its lawsuit, alleging that CMP engaged in a conspiracy to harm the clinics, trespassed, invaded privacy and misrepresented itself.

Planned Parenthood said it has lost business, seen vendors cancel contracts, made it tougher to hire staff and led to threats against the network’s clinics, with harassment complaints spiking 900 percent in July 2015. The organization also cited the November shooting at a clinic in Colorado Springs, in which a gunman killed three people and injured nine others.

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