Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards.
  • David Shankbone via Wikimedia Commons
  • Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards.

Among the charges the health care organization is leveling at the group that propagated rumors of baby parts harvesting: wire fraud, mail fraud, invasion of privacy, illegal secret recording and trespassing. From Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette's press release, sent yesterday:

Today, Planned Parenthood filed a federal lawsuit against the people behind an ongoing, widely discredited video smear campaign—charging that anti-abortion activists engaged in an elaborate, illegal conspiracy in order to block women's access to safe and legal abortion. The videos, which make false and disproven claims, have been invoked in political attacks on access to reproductive health care in Oregon and across the country.

The civil lawsuit, filed in San Francisco, outlines how the defendants - including David Daleiden, Troy Newman, Albin Rhomberg, Sandra Merritt, Gerardo Lopez, Phillip Cronin, the Center for Medical Progress and BioMax - engaged in a complex criminal enterprise to defraud Planned Parenthood and prevent the healthcare organization from providing preventive and reproductive health services to millions of women and men. The lawsuit charges that CMP, its leaders and its co-conspirators engaged in illegal conduct that includes violating the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO Act) and engaging in wire fraud, mail fraud, invasion of privacy, illegal secret recording and trespassing.

Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette, while not party to the lawsuit, is using it as something of a caveat to discuss potential barriers to reproductive rights in Oregon:

...[T]he video smear campaign has been used to push for restrictions on access to reproductive health care in Oregon and around the country, including some right-wing politicians in Salem who are trying to ban access to safe, legal abortion for low-income women. There have also been outrageous, incendiary statements from extremist Oregon politicians such as State Representatives Gail Whitsett of Klamath Falls and Bill Post of Keizer.

"These anti-abortion activists broke multiple laws to spread lies about Planned Parenthood, and the lawsuit filed today will expose this fraud for what it is and hold accountable the people behind it," said Stacy M. Cross, President & CEO of Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette. "It's really unbelievable that these lies are being used to try to block thousands of people in Oregon and Southwest Washington from getting high-quality reproductive health care at Planned Parenthood. We won't let that happen."

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Planned Parenthood Northern California, Planned Parenthood Mar Monte, Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest, Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, Planned Parenthood Orange and San Bernardino Counties, Planned Parenthood Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo Counties, and Planned Parenthood Pasadena and San Gabriel Valley. The defendants are the Center for Medical Progress (a shady organization with ties to anti-abortion terrorist group Operation Rescue), Biomax Procurement Services, LLC, which Planned Parenthood alleges is the name of a fake tissue donation group invented for the smear campaign, David Daleiden, Troy Newman, Albin Rhomberg, Sandra Susan Merritt, Gerardo Adrian Lopez, and Phillip Cronin.

A note about Troy Newman: Dude runs the scary-as-fuck Operation Rescue, which, among other unhelpful hobbies, operates this website, which lists abortion providers' names, images, and contact information. Because I guess when you don't care about anyone's constitutional right to privacy, you really don't care about anyone's right to privacy.