Vitals Reporting on the pro-life movement

David Daleiden takes pro-life legal fight to Supreme Court

Life | Activist’s lawyers claim injunction against undercover videos undercuts free speech rights
by Samantha Gobba
Posted 8/07/17, 12:36 pm

Lawyers for David Daleiden appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court last week over the ongoing litigation suppressing his undercover videos.

During the 2014 and 2015 National Abortion Federation (NAF) annual conventions, the 28-year-old pro-life activist filmed undercover videos of Planned Parenthood workers discussing the illegal fetal tissue trade and late term abortion procedures. In 2015, NAF filed suit, and Judge William Orrick issued a gag order to prevent the videos’ release.

Orrick ruled that if Daleiden released the videos to the public, Planned Parenthood and its affiliates could face “harassment, intimidation, violence, invasion of privacy, and injury to reputation.” But Thomas More Society attorney Tom Brejcha, who helped craft the latest appeal, said journalists’ free speech rights are more important.

“The notion that government needs to filter the truth and wield the censor’s scissors is anathema here in our United States, and we trust that the Supreme Court will not abide this unprecedented suppression of truth and will soon let it be shared openly with all of our fellow citizens,” Brejcha said. “[The] First Amendment does not permit anybody to be insulated against the scrutiny of law enforcement or freed from political embarrassment.”

The NAF lawsuit is just one of several legal battles the Center for Medical Progress has faced. Last year, a Houston jury indicted Daleiden and fellow pro-life activist Sandra Merritt for their undercover videos. Later, a judge dismissed all the charges.

In March, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra charged Daleiden and Merritt with 15 felony counts each, but a court dismissed all but two of those charges in June.

The videos currently under injunction include hundreds of hours of footage. Daleiden previously told me that amounts to about half the total footage the Center for Medical Progress gathered, including some of the most “incriminating footage that I ever recorded.”

In May, Orrick ordered YouTube to remove a video depicting abortionists admitting to performing illegal partial-birth abortions and calling abortion “killing.” The video was one of the many under injunction, but Daleiden’s lawyers released it on their website, saying they had the right to post it.

Later, Daleiden’s lawyers requested Orrick recuse himself from presiding over the case because of his ties to Planned Parenthood. They noted he still served on the board of a hospital that donates space to a Planned Parenthood abortion center, and that his wife, Caroline Orrick, recently supported the abortion giant on Facebook. Orrick denied the bias claims, and another judge sided with Orrick.

Last month, a federal judge found Daleiden and two of his lawyers in contempt of court for the unauthorized video release.

Brejcha said a Supreme Court review of the ongoing case will be pivotal to maintaining our nation’s free speech laws.

“What is ultimately at stake here is whether those who ‘blow the whistle’ on illegal or inhumane misbehavior in any industry may be silenced and even punished for telling the truth to the public at large and to those charged with enforcing criminal and regulatory bans on nefarious practices,” Brejcha said. “Whether America will remain an open or closed society hangs in the balance.”

©iStockPhoto.com/AlbyDeTweede ©iStockPhoto.com/AlbyDeTweede

More patients in the Netherlands ask to die

Doctors in the Netherlands helped kill 4.5 percent of all the people who died in the country in 2015, according to a recent review.

The data published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows more people are requesting physician-assisted death, and doctors are more willing to grant their requests. In 1990, just 1.7 percent of deaths in the Netherlands came through euthanasia or assisted suicide.

To receive a lethal injection or have a doctor prescribe life-ending pills, people from the Netherlands don’t need to have a terminal illness but must be “suffering unbearably.” Most of the people whom doctors helped die were elderly and had health problems, with an increasing number of people without terminal illnesses.

Lead author Dr. Agnes Van der Heide of Erasmus University Medical Center in Rotterdam said doctor-assisted death is becoming more commonplace: “When assisted dying is becoming the more normal option at the end of life, there is a risk people will feel more inclined to ask for it.”

Of those who died in 2015, 8 percent requested doctor-assisted death. Doctors granted more than half those requests, up from about one-third in years past. —S.G.

Associated Press/Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Associated Press/Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Chris Gard and Connie Yates

Charlie Gard’s parents to set up fund for disabled children

The parents of Charlie Gard, the British baby who died last month after a long court battle with doctors over his treatment, are setting up a fund to help children with genetic disorders.

Chris Gard and Connie Yates raised about $1.7 million from supporters to fund their legal battles and transfer Charlie to the United States for experimental treatment of his mitochondrial depletion syndrome. But their lawyers worked pro bono, and the fund remains intact.

“We need to change things and show how determined parents can forge a path for other families encountering similar obstacles,” Yates told the Telegraph. “We need to find treatments for incurable diseases. We need to give other people hope. We need to start saving lives.”

According to a source close to the family, Yates plans to head the charity while Gard returns to work as a mail man. —S.G.

Secular pregnancy center ordered to pay for abortions

A secular pro-life center in Pennsylvania must pay for abortifacient contraception, according to a federal appeals court ruling issued last week. Religious organizations are exempt from the Obamacare mandate that requires insurance plans to cover the drugs, but the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Real Alternatives, a pro-life pregnancy center not affiliated with a religious group, must comply. The organization filed suit against the mandate because organizers believed it violated their mission and purpose. Director Kevin Bagatta told LifeNews the ruling is “no different than if the government would require the American Lung Association to purchase cigarettes for its employees.” —S.G.

Unborn babies notice unfamiliar languages

Babies might be able to distinguish between their mother’s language and a foreign one, according to a recent study from the University of Kansas. Researchers measured the heart rates of two dozen babies just a month from their due date while playing recordings in Japanese and English. The babies’ heart rates stayed the same when the researchers played the English recordings twice in a row, but increased when they played the Japanese recording after the familiar English. A previous study showed babies just 30 hours old sucked longer on pacifiers when they heard an unfamiliar language. —S.G.

Samantha Gobba

Samantha reports on the pro-life movement for WORLD Digital.

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