Wednesday, February 3, 2016

David vs. Goliath

Planned Parenthood is happy for now.   The Harris County, Texas, district attorney has charged CMP with using fake IDs and trying to buy baby parts.
Planned Parenthood and their political backers have launched the attack to perhaps deflect attention from their own behavior; they're attacking the messenger, the Center for Medical Progress and their campaign to uncover the industry's unethical practices.  

The CMP investigators are charged with providing fake identification and trying to buy baby parts.  True, they used fake identification, and false, they weren't trying to buy baby parts.  They were investigating Planned Parenthood's practices which, it was revealed, are openly and visibly questionable at best.  The charges against CMP are perhaps all that PP and the prosecutor could come up with to shut them up.
There's a conflict of interest in the attack, perhaps not surprisingly.  Harris County prosecutor Lauren Reeder sits on the board of directors of the very Planned Parenthood affiliate under scrutiny.

Ignoring Planned Parenthood’s questionable practices – while prosecuting the small group that exposed them – sends the message that if a business is large enough, they can do what they want, break laws they don’t like, and move on.  When journalists challenge their practices, they’ll be the ones punished.

Sherry Colb, Charles Evans Hughes, and Michael C. Dorf at Cornell University, wrote about the potential implications of this case, should the Center for Medical Progress be found guilty.

We are pro-choice, and we support the important work of Planned Parenthood, but we find the prosecution of these citizen journalists, however self-styled, deeply disturbing.
… [I]t appears the charges arise entirely out of their efforts to deceive Planned Parenthood officials in order to gain access. The felony charge of tampering with government records relates to their alleged use of false IDs, and the misdemeanor charge of attempting to buy fetal remains seemingly overlooks the fact that Daleiden and Merritt were only posing as buyers to expose what they believed was illegal conduct by others. 
Whatever the precise facts of this case prove to be, the prosecution has broader implications, and not just for abortion and anti-abortion speech. Undercover exposés play a vital role in informing the American public of important facts that would otherwise remain hidden.
[W]e…oppose efforts to criminalize undercover investigations, regardless of the investigators’ ultimate motives.

If this case goes through, what does that mean to undercover inquiries?  Will journalists still be able to conduct legitimate investigations into questionable activity? As the authors point out, this indictment has repercussions, establishing legal precedent that goes far beyond the abortion debate.
Undercover activists and journalists have uncovered unethical practices everywhere; they have exposed political and corporate corruption, unfair working conditions, and medical malpractice.  Prosecuting the Center for Medical Progress’s investigators can potentially bring all of that to an end.
How's that for a chilling message to any American who wants to stand up to a conscienceless corporation?  It's David vs. Goliath yet again.  Results pending.
These indictments give even more power and influence to large corporations like Planned Parenthood, and makes them nearly untouchable.  That is the greater threat.  

Update: 26 JUL 16 -- Prosecutors abruptly dropped the controversial charges Tuesday against two undercover activists who videotaped Planned Parenthood officials, ending a case that thrust the Harris County District Attorney's Office into the center of the nationwide abortion debate.  - Houston Chronicle   The battle continues.

Update: 14 DEC 17 --  GUILTY.  Planned Parenthood partner illegally sold harvested fetal organs to companies around the world.  The Orange County District Attorney completes successful prosecution in Planned Parenthood’s baby body parts network.  DaVinci Biosciences and DV Biologics, business partners with Planned Parenthood of Orange & San Bernardino Counties (PPOSBC), pled guilty to breaking state and federal laws by selling aborted fetal organs and tissue from Planned Parenthood for profit and signed a $7.8 million settlement in which they were banned from doing business in the state of California ever again.