Court mostly upholds verdict against activists behind undercover Planned Parenthood videos
A judge in Florida ruled on Friday that an undercover video released in March by the Center for Medical Progress — including allegations that Planned Parenthood had provided aborted baby body parts to pharmaceutical companies — must be released to the public. In a ruling that was generally praised by pro-choicers, U.S. District Judge William Orrick III agreed that the undercover video was admissible in court, and that the defendants — an anti-abortion activist, a right-wing media company and a former Planned Parenthood executive — were not entitled to a protective order. The ruling did offer an option that the activists had proposed: The judge said he would grant a protective order to shield from discovery the identities of undercover operatives, which the activists have vowed to use to reveal the full context of the video’s claims.
Planned Parenthood and its supporters argue that the video is an attempt to intimidate them into not talking about their baby body parts practices in future undercover videos. The plaintiffs claimed that the video will have an “eviscerating effect” on their legal fight against anti-abortion legislation in states across the country and that releasing the full video would damage their ability to defend themselves in court.
The anti-abortion community and the media — which have also criticized the ruling — have vowed retaliatory legal action against the activists that released their video, as we’re seeing with the anti-abortion group Operation Rescue trying to have the judge unseal documents in the case. The activists say the decision is especially disappointing because of the judge’s earlier decision to dismiss a similar case in Florida in 2016.
Planned Parenthood supporters say they’re still hopeful that the judge will make an even bolder ruling that the undercover video should be released.
While the judge’s ruling on Friday was technically a denial of a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, it’s a rare ruling that upholds the public’s right to know about the undercover video, said Paul S. Ryan, a spokesman for the Center for Medical Progress.
“It is disappointing that the court chose not to grant us access to the video in light