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By Sarah Ferris

Editor Dustin Bond MC News

Planned Parenthood on Thursday filed a long-awaited federal lawsuit against the anti-abortion activists who have targeted the group with undercover videos for the last year.

The formal complaint marks the first time that Planned Parenthood has taken legal action against the group, the Center for Medical Progress.

The national organization, along with its California affiliate, is accusing the Center for Medical Progress and its organizer David Daleiden for unlawful behavior ranging from secret taping to trespassing. The group said the Center for Medical Progress has violated the laws of three states as well as federal law.

“Today, Planned Parenthood is going on the offense,” Kathy Kneer, president of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California said in a call with reporters.

In response, Daleiden released a statement that said “game on.”

“I look forward to deposing all the CEOs, Medical Directors, and their co-conspirators who participated in Planned Parenthood’s illegal baby body parts racket,” he said.

Daleiden, who has become a national figure in the abortion debate this year, has released 10 videos featuring secretly recorded footage of Planned Parenthood staff members discussing fetal tissue donated from abortions.

The footage includes clips of at least one conversation in which a Planned Parenthood official discusses the amount of money that the group can receive in reimbursement for the fetal tissue.

The jarring dialogue, while it does not indicate illegal activity, has sparked a national outcry and forced Planned Parenthood to defend its funding on the national and state level.

Planned Parenthood has repeatedly defended the practice of allowing women to donate fetal tissue for medical research, though it announced last year that it would no longer accept reimbursement for the procedure.

Planned Parenthood officials say they are still assessing how much money they will seek in damages in the case. In the complaint, the group announced it is seeking compensatory, statutory and punitive damages.

The timing for the decision is unclear, though the group’s chief legal counsel, Beth Parker, made clear it could take as long as 18 months. The legal back-and-forth could intensify the political debate on abortion through the upcoming elections.

Planned Parenthood’s executive vice president Dawn Laguens alleged that the Center for Medical Progress has “colluded with right-wing state legislators and members of Congress” in their attack.

“The complaint we filed today, names for the first time, the key individuals behind this fraud. They are some of the nation’s most extreme anti-abortion activists,” Laguens said.

This story was updated at 2:26 p.m.

 

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The Hill

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