WASHINGTON, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Women's healthcare provider Planned Parenthood filed a federal lawsuit alleging criminal misconduct by anti-abortion activists who secretly taped officials appearing to talk about trafficking fetal tissue.
The lawsuit, filed Thursday, alleges the Center for Medical Progress engaged in a three-year "complex criminal enterprise." The lawsuit names center director David Daleiden; Troy Newman, the head of Operation Rescue and others.
Planned Parenthood alleges Daleiden, Newman and others used aliases, obtained fake government IDs and created a sham tissue procurement company, Biomax to illegally tape conversations. The group then "spliced together shards of long conversations to create short videos in order to spread false claims that Planned Parenthood 'sells' or profits from women's decisions to donate fetal tissue for medical research."
"Daleiden and his co-conspirators' goal in releasing these grossly misleading videos was to disrupt Planned Parenthood's operations to prevent millions of women and men from getting the care we provide," said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "But their ultimate goal is to make all abortion illegal and they will stop at nothing -- including breaking the law and lying -- to pursue their misguided and deeply unpopular agenda."
The videos, which began surfacing in July, purport to show Planned Parenthood officials and representatives from Biomax discussing the sale of fetal tissue. Planned Parenthood has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. Investigations in at least eight states following the release of the videos have found no wrongdoing from Planned Parenthood. No charges have been announced against the Center for Medical Progress either.
The civil lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, seeks compensatory and punitive damages and legal fees. It also alleges the center's videos are tied to an uptick in vandalism at Planned Parenthood locations nationwide and the Nov. 27 shooting at a facility in Colorado Springs that left three dead. Alleged shooter Robert Dear said the shooting was in response to the controversial videos.
The Center for Medical Progress said the lawsuit is a "last-ditch move of desperation" that will "expose all of the sordid dealings of the California Planned Parenthood affiliates to the light of the legal system and the public will see them for the corrupt abortion and baby body parts profiteers that they really are."
"Game on," he said. "I look forward to deposing all the CEOs, medical directors and their co-conspirators who participated in Planned Parenthood's illegal baby body parts racket."