Center for Medical Progress

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The Center for Medical Progress (CMP) is an anti-abortion organization that presents itself as "a group of citizen journalists dedicated to monitoring and reporting on medical ethics and advances."[1] CMP is largely known for its deceptive attacks on Planned Parenthood, the reproductive health provider.

In 2015 CMP released a set of misleading and heavily edited undercover videos about Planned Parenthood. Media Matters called CMP its "Misinformer of the Year" for 2015,[2]

CMP is a distinct organization from the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research Center for Medical Progress.

Controversies over Misleading Undercover Videos of Planned Parenthood

Beginning in July 2015 CMP released a series of videos that it claimed provided evidence that Planned Parenthood was profiting from sales of fetal tissue.[3] As of January 2016, eleven states that investigated Planned Parenthood over the videos had cleared the organization of any wrongdoing, and a Texas grand jury indicted CMP's David Daleiden and another CMP staff member.[4]

Daleiden reportedly spent some 30 months secretly collecting video footage in which he and another activist "pos[ed] as representatives of a biotechnology firm procuring tissue for researchers and universities," as The New York Times described.[3] According to a lawyer for Planned Parenthood, the Times reported, Daleiden

created a fake company called Biomax Procurement Services for “a campaign of corporate espionage.” [The lawyer] said Mr. Daleiden had been involved in at least 10 “attacks” on Planned Parenthood over eight years, “gaining access to our health centers and offices under false pretenses, taping staff (and sometimes patients) without their knowledge,” and making at least 65 recordings.[5]

Many sources have reported on alterations and deceptive editing in the videos and errors in the transcripts released by CMP, including The New York Times,[3] CNN,[6] Vox,[7] and Media Matters.[8]

Nonetheless, the videos were used as a reason for multiple states to investigate Planned Parenthood and to cut funding from Planned Parenthood, for some Republicans to threaten a government shutdown,[9] and for the Republican-led House Judiciary Committee to hold a hearing on the issue titled "Planned Parenthood Exposed: Examining the Horrific Abortion Practices at the Nation's Largest Abortion Provider."[10]

Texas Grand Jury Indicts CMP Filmmakers, not Planned Parenthood

A Texas grand jury convened to investigate Planned Parenthood ended up indicting two CMP activists.[4]

CMP's video prompted some Texas state legislators to call for an investigation into Planned Parenthood, and a grand jury was convened in 2015 to look into allegations of misconduct.[11]

The grand jury met for two months, finding that Planned Parenthood had broken no laws. Instead, the grand jury indicted CMP Director David Daleiden "on a felony charge of tampering with a governmental record and a misdemeanor count related to purchasing human organs" and CMP employee Sandra Merritt "on a charge of tampering with a governmental record," according to the L.A. Times.[4] The charges of tampering with a government record were related to "making and presenting fake California driver’s licenses, with the intent to defraud," as described by The New York Times.[12]

Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson said of the decision, "As I stated at the outset of this investigation, we must go where the evidence leads us. All the evidence uncovered in the course of this investigation was presented to the grand jury. I respect their decision on this difficult case."[4]

Accused Killer in Planned Parenthood Mass Shooting Echoes Daleiden's "Baby Parts" Rhetoric

Robert Lewis Dear, Jr. was charged with eight counts of first-degree murder and 171 other charges related to the November 27, 2015 mass shooting at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs. According to officials, Dear said "no more baby parts" to investigators after he was arrested.[13] Dear later called himself a "warrior for the babies" during a court hearing.[14]

Dear's references to "baby parts" drew increased attention to CMP's role in stirring up aggression against and threats to Planned Parenthood. Daleiden has referred to Planned Parenthood as "baby body parts profiteers" and CMP's website claims that "Planned Parenthood sells the body parts of aborted babies."[15][16] Planned Parenthood has documented an increase in threats by phone, email, and social media since the release of the videos,[17] and at least four clinics have been the targets of arson since the first video was released.[18]

Daleiden rejected any connection between his campaign and violence targeting clinics, saying Planned Parenthood was "politicizing the tragedy in Colorado."[19]

Planned Parenthood Sues CMP for Fraud, Trespassing, RICO Violations

On January 14, 2016 Planned Parenthood filed a federal lawsuit against CMP.[20] The suit "charges that the center and those affiliated with it, including its leader David Daleiden, engaged in conduct in violation of the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organization Act, as well as fraud, invasion of privacy and trespassing," as described by U.S. News. Planned Parenthood asked for compensatory and punitive damages and for financial restitution.[21]

"We're holding anti-abortion extremists accountable for their three-year conspiracy to attempt to shut our doors," wrote Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood.[21]

In a statement, CMP called the lawsuit "frivolous" and a "last-ditch move of desperation [that] is going to expose all of the sordid dealings of the California Planned Parenthood affiliates to the light of the legal system and the public will see them for the corrupt abortion and baby body parts profiteers that they really are."[22]

National Abortion Federation Files Injunction Against CMP

The National Abortion Federation, a professional association for abortion providers, filed a suit seeking a restraining order and temporary injunction against CMP on July 31, 2015. NAF sought to "prohibit the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), David Daleiden, and others from releasing recordings and materials they illegally obtained at NAF’s educational meetings."

“The safety and security of our members is our top priority,” said Vicki Saporta, NAF President and CEO. “That security has been compromised by the illegal activities of a group with ties to those who believe it is justifiable to murder abortion providers. CMP went to great lengths to infiltrate our meetings as part of a campaign to intimidate and attack abortion providers.”[23]

NAF won a temporary restraining order in August 2015, with the judge ordering CMP to refrain from publishing or disclosing any information or materials it had collected at the NAF meetings.[24] However, apparently leaked video footage was released in October 2015 by hacker Andrew “Weev” Auernheimer and right-wing blogger Charles Johnson, who told Politico "that he obtained the raw tapes from a high-ranking congressional staffer 'who felt morally compelled to have them released.'"[25] Johnson operates the website GotNews.com and is friends with Daleiden.[26]

Despite Lack of Wrongdoing, States Cut Planned Parenthood Funding Over Videos

Several states attempted to cut Planned Parenthood's funding and/or its role as a Medicaid provider, including Louisiana,[27] Alabama,[28] Texas,[29][30] New Hampshire,[28] and Arkansas.

Such moves are likely illegal, as Medicaid has a "free-choice-of-provider provision" which "limits a state's ability to bar family planning providers for reasons unrelated to quality of care," according to the Associated Press.[31]

On October 28, 2015 a judge ordered Alabama to continue its funding.[31]

On October 31, 2015 U.S. District Judge John deGravelles issued a preliminary injunction to prevent Louisiana from stripping funding from clinics, as Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal attempted to do in summer 2015.[27]

Planned Parenthood sued Texas over its cut in November 2015.[32]

CMP Activists Use Deception to Access Medical Facilities and Private Meetings

Daleiden and CMP acivist Susan Merritt reportedly used deceptive tactics in gathering their secret video footage, including creating a fake tissue-procurement company and creating false identification cards, according to the Houston Press:

To hide that the newly formed company was a front for activists tied to a radical strain of the anti-abortion movement, [Daleiden and Merritt] filed incorporation papers using pseudonyms and fake IDs. Next the activists aggressively marketed “Biomax Procurement Services, LLC” as a legitimate company that transfers donated fetal tissue from abortion clinics to medical researchers (a legal process that has, unsurprisingly, been condemned by anti-abortion activists).
Eventually, the fake company gained access to private conferences for abortion providers held by Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation, gatherings they surreptitiously recorded. Leveraging contacts they made while hobnobbing with abortion providers, the undercover anti-abortion activists set up meetings across the country to talk with doctors about fetal tissue donation. They showed up for one such meeting at a Houston Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast clinic on April 9, 2015, flashing IDs with the names of people who do not exist.[33]

Personnel

According to IRS registration filed in April 2013:[34]

  • David Daleiden, CEO
  • Albin Rhomberg, CFO. Rhomberg has served as a spokesperson for multiple ballot initiatives to restrict access to abortion in California.[35][36]
  • Troy Newman, Secretary

Founder David Daleiden

David Daleiden founded CMP in 2013, according to the organization's website.[37] Daleiden was previously director of research for the anti-abortion group Live Action.[38] Daleiden's biography for CMP does not name Live Action, instead describing Daleiden as a "citizen journalist" who worked "as Director of Research for a national new media education and advocacy organization."[37]

Daleiden is reportedly a friend of James O'Keefe, the right-wing activist known for a deceptive undercover video attacking the community organization ACORN and for attempting to bug the office of Louisiana Gov. Mary Landrieu,[39][40] and worked with anti-abortion activist Lila Rose, also known for secret video recordings.[38]

Director Troy Newman Previously Called Murder of Doctor "Justifiable"

CMP does not list its board of directors. According to a press release, one of its directors is Troy Newman, president of the radical anti-abortion group Operation Rescue.[41]

Like Daleiden, Newman has used violent and inflammatory rhetoric to describe Planned Parenthood and abortion, such as comparing abortion providers to "butchers," and defended the murder of Dr. John Britton as a "justifiable defensive action."[42]

Funding and Finances

CMP is registered as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and lists its industry as "G Diseases, Disorders, Medical Disciplines: Biomedicine, Bioengineering."[43] According to its IRS registration forms, CMP was established in December 2013, and its EIN is 46-2252984, but as of January 2016 its tax filings were not available.[43][44][34]

While CMP's website lists an address in Irvine, California, its nonprofit registration lists its address as 5325 Elkhorn Blvd 305, Sacramento, California 95842-2526.[43][34]

Known Funders

CMP does not appear to disclose its funding sources.

The anti-abortion Life Legal Defense Foundation announced that it had supported CMP's secret video project, writing that "Daleiden gives a lot of credit to Life Legal: 'The Center for Medical Progress thanks Life Legal Defense Foundation for their initiative and foresight in consulting on and helping to develop this project.'"[45]

CMP received $9,000 through the Schwab Charitable Fund, a donor-advised fund, in 2013. (Its listed address was 8400 Edinger Ave. #P107, Huntington Beach, California.)[46]

Core Finances

According to CMP's IRS registration form, accessible on its website:[34]
These figures appear to be projections of likely revenues and expenses.

2015:

  • Total Revenues: $80,000
  • Total Expenses: $80,000

2014:

  • Total Revenues: $80,000
  • Total Expenses: $80,000

2013:
(For the period 3/2013-12/2013)

  • Total Revenues: $120,000
  • Total Expenses: $120,000
  • Net Assets: $3,500

Contact

The Center for Medical Progress
15333 Culver Dr, Ste 340-819
Irvine, CA 92604
Phone: 949.734.0859
Email: media@centerformedicalprogress.org
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/centerformedicalprogress
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/user/centerformedprogress
Twitter: @CtrMedProgress

References

  1. Center for Medical Progress, About Us," organization website, accessed January 2016.
  2. Olivia Kittel, "Misinformer Of The Year: The Center For Medical Progress," Media Matters for America, December 17, 2015.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Jackie Calmes, "Planned Parenthood Videos Were Altered, Analysis Finds," The New York Times, August 28, 2015.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Molly Hennessy-Fiske, "Texas grand jury indicts antiabortion activists who made undercover videos of Planned Parenthood," L.A. Times, January 25, 2016.
  5. Jackie Calmes, "Planned Parenthood Tells Congress More Videos of Clinics Might Surface," The New York Times, July 21, 2015.
  6. Drew Griffin and David Fitzpatrick, "[1]," CNN, October 19, 2015.
  7. Sarah Kliff, "I watched 12 hours of the Planned Parenthood sting videos. Here’s what I learned.," Vox, August 13, 2015.
  8. Rachel Larris, "A Comprehensive Guide To The Deceptively-Edited Videos Used Against Planned Parenthood," Media Matters for America, August 31, 2015.
  9. Seung Min Kim, "Countdown to shutdown begins," Politico, September 7, 2015.
  10. U.S. House Judiciary Committee, "Planned Parenthood Exposed: Examining the Horrific Abortion Practices at the Nation's Largest Abortion Provider," hearings schedule, September 9, 2015.
  11. Brittney Martin, "Texas Republicans call for investigations of Planned Parenthood," Dallas Morning News, July 15, 2015.
  12. Manny Fernandez, "2 Abortion Foes Behind Planned Parenthood Videos Are Indicted," The New York Times, January 26, 2016.
  13. Richard Fausset, "For Robert Dear, Religion and Rage Before Planned Parenthood Attack," The New York Times, December 2, 2015.
  14. Jordan Steffen, "Planned Parenthood suspect: 'I am guilty ... a warrior for the babies'," Denver Post, December 9, 2015.
  15. Steven Ertelt, "Planned Parenthood Sues Maker of Shocking Videos Showing It Selling Aborted Baby Body Parts," Life News, January 14, 2016.
  16. Center for Medical Progress, "Human Capital Project," organization website, accessed January 2016.
  17. Nicole Hensley, "Anti-abortion videos inspired recent spike in threats, arson against Planned Parenthood and may have led to fatal shooting in Colorado Springs: pro-choice activists," New York Daily News, November 28, 2015.
  18. Bill Morlin, "Four Arsons in 74 Days at Planned Parenthood Clinics," Southern Poverty Law Center, October 2, 2015.
  19. Billy Hallowell, "He Sent Shockwaves Through the Nation With His Undercover Planned Parenthood Videos. Here’s the Unsettling Question He Has for Cecile Richards," The Blaze, December 9, 2015.
  20. Planned Parenthood v. Center for Medical Progress, U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, legal filing, January 14, 2015.
  21. 21.0 21.1 Kimberley Leonard, "Planned Parenthood Suing Undercover Video Group," U.S. News & World Report, January 14, 2016.
  22. Center for Medical Progress, "CMP Statement on Planned Parenthood Lawsuit," organizational website, January 14, 2016.
  23. National Abortion Federation, "NAF Files for Injunction Against the Center for Medical Progress (CMP)," press release, July 31, 2015.
  24. Eugene Volokh, "Judge extends restraining order against release of secretly filmed videos from National Abortion Federation conference," Washington Post, August 4, 2015.
  25. Nancy Cook, "'Confidential' Planned Parenthood video leaked," Politico, October 22, 2015.
  26. Teddy Wilson, "Planned Parenthood Smear Videos Leaked on Anti-Choice Website," RH Reality Check, October 23, 2015.
  27. 27.0 27.1 Victoria Cavaliere, "Judge orders Louisiana to continue funding Planned Parenthood," October 31, 2015.
  28. 28.0 28.1 Eugene Scott, "Alabama makes three states that defunded Planned Parenthood this week ," CNN, August 6, 2015.
  29. Dianna Wray, "Texas Cuts Planned Parenthood From Medicaid Over Videos," Houston Press October 19, 2015.
  30. Will Weissert, "Texas cuts off Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood," Associated Press, October 19, 2015.
  31. 31.0 31.1 Kim Chandler, "Judge blocks Alabama from ending Planned Parenthood funding," Associated Press, October 28, 2015.
  32. Alexa Ura and Edgar Walters, "[http://www.texastribune.org/2015/11/23/planned-parenthood-sues-texas-over-medicaid-fundin/ Planned Parenthood Sues Texas Over Medicaid Removal]," Texas Tribune, November 23, 2015.
  33. Michael Barajas, "How Anti-Abortion Activists Lied Their Way Into a Houston Planned Parenthood Clinic," Houston Press, January 25, 2016.
  34. 34.0 34.1 34.2 34.3 Center for Medical Progress, IRS Form 1023, organizational registration, accessed January 2016.
  35. Amie Newman, "What (and Who) Is Behind CA’s Parental Notification Push," RH Reality Check, October 28, 2008.
  36. Jeffery M. Barker, "The parent trap," Sacramento News & Review, July 8, 2005.
  37. 37.0 37.1 Center for Medical Progress, "Speakers," organization website, accessed January 2016.
  38. 38.0 38.1 Live Action, "David Daleiden," organizational biography, August 17, 2009. Archived by Internet Wayback Machine, accessed January 2016.
  39. Charles C. Johnson, "Student Anti-ACORN Sting in San Bernardino Will Help Bring It Down," Claremont Conservative, September 15, 2009.
  40. Dan Evon, "Fact Check Politics: Baby Parts for Sale," Snopes, July 14, 2015.
  41. "Money Goes In, Aborted Baby Parts Go Out: Planned Parenthood's Illegal Secret Human Tissue Trade," press release, July 14, 2015.
  42. Operation Rescue West, "Execution of Paul Hill Nothing Less than Murder," press release, September 3, 2003.
  43. 43.0 43.1 43.2 Citizen Audit, Center for Medical Progress, organization profile, accessed January 2016.
  44. Guidestar, CENTER FOR MEDICAL PROGRESS," organization profile, accessed January 2016.
  45. Life Legal Defense Foundation, "EXPOSED! Planned Parenthood sells dead baby parts on a massive scale," organization website, July 14, 2015.
  46. Schwab Charitable Fund, 2013 IRS Form 990 , organizational tax filing, February 17, 2015. See pdf p. 283.