It seems pro-life journalist David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress’ legal battle with the abortion industry is far from over.
In 2015, the pro-life media group published a series of undercover videos that showed high-ranking Planned Parenthood officials illegally trafficking the body parts of aborted babies. CMP obtained most of the footage at National Abortion Federation conferences and trade shows, where Daleiden and his colleagues secretly recorded meetings with abortion providers and executives.
The videos allowed people to witness the dehumanizing nature of abortion firsthand, prompting NAF to take action and ensure the public never had such a transparent view of its operations again.
Last month, Judge William Orrick III awarded a permanent injunction to NAF, blocking Daleiden from publishing additional undercover trade show and conference footage. The abortion advocacy group was previously granted a temporary injunction in 2016, but Orrick’s recent decision barred the videos’ release indefinitely.
On Tuesday, NAF filed a motion with Orrick, requesting that the pro-life journalist pay the organization around $7.4 million in attorney’s fees and costs. Court proceedings centered around the motion are expected to take place on July 14, “or as soon thereafter as the matter may be heard.”
The Thomas More Society, a nonprofit law firm representing the pro-life journalist, spoke with The Western Journal about NAF’s recent court filing and what it means for Daleiden’s legal fight going forward.
According to TMS vice president and senior counsel Peter Breen, NAF’s recompense demands are “outrageous,” and the law firm intends to fight it.
For now, the plan is to take the case to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and, while there may be some additional legal strategies to combat the motion, the attorney could not disclose them yet.
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“This is just part of, you know, this is a long, slow slog from a legal perspective, trying to — eking out small victories in the face of overwhelming odds,” Breen told The Western Journal.
“One of the problems of this case is not just that the National Abortion Federation wants a permanent gag order.”
“It’s that they want to bankrupt and punish anyone that would challenge them,” he added.
“So unless we can get the judgments against David Daleiden reversed, there will be case precedent that could be used against undercover journalists to … tie them up in court for years.”
In its recent court filing, NAF claimed that CMP’s recordings violated the Exhibitor and Confidentiality Agreements that its annual conference attendees sign.
By signing the agreement, the abortion group asserted that CMP’s investigators agreed to refrain from recording or sharing information obtained at the conferences “without NAF’s consent.”
But one of the problems with this claim, according to Breen, is that the non-disclosure agreement NAF forced people to sign does not say that the group has “ownership” over information shared at the conference.
Based on this, NAF should not have the right to control what sort of details about its events are released to the public, especially where Daleiden’s videos are concerned.
“This is a contract that’s not worth the paper it’s printed on,” the attorney said.
“This was an 800-person trade show of the entire abortion industry. And the only reason that you’d be putting out a — trying to enforce a nondisclosure agreement would be to cover up the source of unsavory conduct that [Daleiden] has revealed to the public.”
NAF also believes it is entitled to legal fees due to the lengthiness of the litigation proceedings. The abortion group claims that the pro-life journalist’s legal team found ways to “prolong” the process by filing various appeals, forcing NAF’s lawyers to expend more “time and energy.”
The complaint about legal expenses is ironic to the TMS vice president, considering NAF instigated these court proceedings when it sought an “unprecedented” injunction against a journalist.
“And then they complain that we’re fighting too hard to defend [Daleiden] from all of this harassing, frivolous activity,” Breen said.
Still, the attorney said that, while the process will likely “take a while,” he is confident that the pro-life journalist will be “vindicated at the end of the day.”
“The point I continue to try to make to everyone who is watching this case and the whole controversy is that no matter what issue is your primary issue — whether it’s abortion, or political corruption, or animal rights or anything else — what the abortion industry is doing to David can just as easily be done by any other big corporate interest against any other undercover journalist,” he said.
“And if this is allowed to stand, our nation will be poorer, we will be less informed as a people, and you know, large, well-moneyed interests will continue to do bad things, and you won’t be able to know about them.”