A judge with close ties to Planned Parenthood has blocked undercover investigative journalist David Daleiden from releasing any more videos exposing the alleged sale of preborn remains for profit by the abortion industry. It’s stunning setback not only for Daleiden’s case, but for the future of investigative journalism in the state of California and, potentially, throughout the country as well.
“Our members can rest easier this weekend knowing that they are protected,” National Abortion Federation president Vicki Saporta said when the initial injunction was put in place against Daleiden in 2015.
But can the rest of the country and the people of California rest easier now that this injunction has been extended? Probably not.
This decision does not just affect Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress but threatens the ability of undercover journalists to expose corruption, abuses of power and other criminal activity. Journalists in California interested in investigating an organization through covert means will think twice or may not even consider it at all based on what has happened in this case.
Pro-life activists and those with a conservative mindset are not the only ones interested in preserving the time-honored tradition of undercover journalism. In a filed amicus brief, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), Mercy For Animals, Inc. (MFA), GAP, and Animal Outlook voiced their support for Daleiden and the ability for journalists to do their job and expose important issues.
“Amici Curaie are scholars of First Amendment and informational law and animal-advocacy organizations. Amici have an interest in preserving robust constitutional protections for speech (and precursors of speech) and for those who gather news and report on matters of public concern. Amici have a strong interest in ensuring that individuals remain able to use undercover methods to investigate and report on matters that might otherwise remain unavailable or inaccessible to the public, continuing an American tradition of important journalism conducted using undercover techniques,” the amicus brief stated.
“Undercover newsgathering and reporting is central to law and policy debates on matters of public concern. From Mortimer Thompson’s firsthand accounts of the slave trade leading up to the Civil War, to Nellie Bly’s graphic translation of her time in Blackwell’s Island Insane Asylum, to Upton Sinclair’s exposé of the meat-packing industry, investigative reporting is responsible for bringing to public view some of the most pressing matters in the last 150 years.”
However, the reporter who undertakes an investigation into Planned Parenthood is not met with praise or commendations, like these others, but instead faces lawsuit after lawsuit for daring to investigate the practices of the nation’s leading abortion provider.
David Daleiden and his team at the Center for Medical Progress have been facing litigation since 2015, when the videos were first released and made waves around the country. In the undercover videos, Daleiden and other journalists infiltrated the abortion industry claiming that they were a company interested in procuring preborn remains for research purposes. Planned Parenthood was allegedly willing to provide those remains to Daleiden, for a price.
It is legal in the United States for the abortion industry to recoup the costs of storing and transporting the remains of preborn babies aborted after an abortion, but they can’t make a profit or sell them, only donate.
Famously, while discussing a deal with Daleiden’s fake company, president of the medical directors of Planned Parenthood Dr. Mary Gatter said, “Let me just figure out what the others are getting, and if this is in the ballpark, then it’s fine, if it’s still low, then we can bump it up. I want a Lamborghini.”
Instead of siding with the journalist and freedom of speech, the court system in California has done everything that it can to protect the abortion industry from any more embarrassment or potential outrage by blocking the release of any further videos under the direction of District Court Judge William Orrick, who has close associations with Planned Parenthood.
Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress are also fighting against a $16 million lawsuit filed by Planned Parenthood.
This is not how undercover journalism, or seemingly the court system, are supposed to work.
If journalists can’t investigate a story using every method available in order to expose corruption and potentially illegal activity, there is no free speech in this country.
Free speech is important, and directly tied to religious freedom. Benjamin Franklin reflected, “Freedom of speech is a principal pillar of a free government: When this support is taken away, the constitution of a free society is dissolved.”
Screenshot from YouTube