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Supreme Court Declines Pro-life Group's Appeal in Undercover Video Case

AP Photo/Bob Levey

The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal Monday from the pro-life group, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP). The group petitioned the court after a lower court’s refusal to dismiss charges brought against them in a civil lawsuit by Planned Parenthood alleging fraud, invasion of privacy, and trespassing.


CMP president David Daleiden attempted to have Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit dismissed on First Amendment grounds arguing that his group was engaging in investigative journalism. He argued that the abortion group’s lawsuit violated California’s anti-SLAPP statute which is meant to prevent frivolous lawsuits that affect the free speech of citizen journalists.

The Center for Medical Progress was behind a series of undercover videos which exposed Planned Parenthood employees discussing trafficking in fetal remains. The group posed as a fetal tissue-procurement company in the videos. When the footage was initially released in 2015, even then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called it “disturbing.”

The nation’s largest abortion provider denied wrongdoing but CMP’s videos did lead to Planned Parenthood ending their practice of receiving reimbursement for fetal tissue donation.

The justices’ refusal to take up the case leaves in place the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling allowing the case against the group to proceed.


Despite the addition of Justices Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, the Supreme Court has seemed wary of taking up abortion-related cases.

Justice Clarence Thomas implied in December that the high court’s decision to reject an appeal from states trying to defund Planned Parenthood had to do with a desire to avoid the politically polarizing issue of abortion.

"What explains the court’s refusal to do its job here?" he wrote. "I suspect it has something to do with the fact that some respondents in these cases are named 'Planned Parenthood.' That makes the court’s decision particularly troubling, as the question presented has nothing to do with abortion."

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