Life Legal Cases to Watch

Current Cases — November 2021

Dobbs v. JWHO (Jackson, MS)—Last abortion clinic in Mississippi challenge to MS’s post-15-week-abortion ban. Life Legal filed an amicus brief drawing from our white paper on perinatal survival, arguing that Roe and Casey’s use of the “point” of viability as a boundary for the constitutionality of abortion restrictions was illogical and unworkable. The Supreme Court granted certiorari. Mississippi has asked the Court to overrule Roe and Casey. Over 80 amicus briefs were filed, and most of those also asked the Court to overrule Roe and Casey. Life Legal filed an amicus brief as well. Hearing Dec 1.  

Planned Parenthood v. Daleiden et al. (CA)—In January 2016, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and a number of PP affiliates sued David Daleiden, fellow investigators, and the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) in federal court, for the express purpose of punishing them for their investigative work exposing PP’s role in the sale of baby parts. Three years of written discovery, depositions, and expert witness discovery succeeded in paring down Planned Parenthood’s claimed damages by over ninety-five percent. However, after a six-week trial, the jury found for the plaintiffs on most of the remaining claims and damages. Judge William Orrick recently denied all of plaintiffs’ post-trial motions, so the jury’s verdict stands unless overturned on appeal. Some defendants posted a $600,000 bond, but Plaintiffs has moved to increase the bond to $3,000,000 in light of PP being awarded approximately $14,000,000 in fees, expenses, and costs. 

We are appealing the verdict. Appellate brief was completed on November 8. Life Legal represents former CMP board member Albin Rhomberg.

Daleiden and his colleague Susan Merritt are also facing criminal charges arising from their investigatory work. After a three-week preliminary hearing in San Francisco, eight of the sixteen felony criminal charges remain against Merritt and ten charges against Daleiden remain.  October 2020 appeal on remaining charges filed at the California Supreme court.  Trial anticipated for 2022.

Ahn v. Hestrin (CA)—In June 2016, Life Legal filed a constitutional challenge to California’s assisted suicide law on behalf of six doctors and the American Academy of Medical Ethics asserting that the Act was passed in violation of California’s constitution and that the Act removes crucial legal protections from sick and vulnerable patients that are enjoyed by other Californians. After an initial victory in the trial court, Attorney General Xavier Becerra appealed, and was joined by Soros-funded pro-suicide group “Compassion and Choices” as prospective intervenors. The appellate court found that the plaintiffs lack standing to challenge the law. After the California Supreme Court denied review, the case returned to the trial court to determine whether the plaintiffs can allege sufficient new facts to establish standing to challenge the law. The trial court ruled 1) the plaintiffs lack standing to challenge the law on equal protection and due process grounds, and 2) the legislature did not violate the constitution by passing the law in a special session convened to address the Medicaid funding shortfall.  On January 29, Plaintiffs filed their opening brief on appeal on the case. Meanwhile, the trial court granted intervention for a Compassion & Choices patient, but denied it for a C&C doctor. The doctor appealed to the appellate court and lost. Their petition for review in the CA Supreme Court was denied.

Meanwhile, the California Legislature amended the EOLA in various ways (SB 380). This arguably mooted the special session prong of the challenge. In light of the vanishingly slight chance of winning, and the complications created by the amendments to the law, we dismissed the case.

State of Louisiana v. Puckett and Goodman (Baton Rouge, LA)—Red Rose Rescuers who entered an abortion clinic to save babies and moms. Arrested and facing charges of Failure to Disperse. Trial set for November 16, 2021.

People v. Moscinski, et al (Washington, DC)—Red Rose Rescuers arrested for trespass after they entered abortion mill in Washington DC to pray for and with women inside. Clinic owner is notorious late-term abortionists Steven Brigham, who lost his license in 7 states for gross negligence. Arraigned in July 2021. Non-jury trial set for March 9, 2022.

People v. Demi Giro (Roseville, CA)—Elderly pro-life advocates attacked by 28-year-old woman at PP near Sacramento. Assailant was cited for elder abuse, assault, and theft of pro-lifer’s phone. Initially, Roseville DA’s office declined to prosecute, but we contacted the office and charges were filed. Victory: Assailant served 30 days in jail for vandalism starting October 5, 2021 and was ordered to pay restitution and complete anger management. She is currently on probation through August 2022.

People v. Survivors and Pro-life SF—Baby body parts experimentation protest at UCSF resulted in several arrests.  Criminal proceedings pending. Second arrest in July and arraignment pending.

Two Rivers School v. Darnel et al. (Washington, D.C.)—Pro-life advocates protested the construction of a Planned Parenthood MegaCenter adjacent to a middle school in Washington, D.C.

The school district sued and obtained a preliminary injunction. The case is stalled, pending consolidation of appeals. Status hearing scheduled for December 17, 2021.

People v. Hathaway (San Mateo, CA) —Pro-lifer cited for battery as she attempted to retrieve from a PP employee a phone she had loaned to a patient. Victory: charges dismissed.

Alabama Department of Public Health (Alabama) —Life Legal sent numerous demand letters  to the Alabama Department of Public Health (“ADPH”) seeking comprehensive investigations of abortion clinics in Alabama. Most recently, we demanded an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of a woman who died at a local hospital the day she obtained an abortion at West Alabama Women’s Center in Tuscaloosa. We also urged ADPH to revoke the abortion license issued to Planned Parenthood Birmingham because of its false advertising. The letter further demanded regular and consistent inspections of all abortion clinics in the state of Alabama to all ensure correction of any deficiencies reported by the ADPH, including failure to properly monitor patients after surgical abortions, expired medications and surgical supplies, and failure to ensure that patients did not leave the clinic with an incomplete abortion. ADPH declined to take any action in response to the demand.   We are working with the Charismatic Episcopal Church (CEC) for Life in Alabama and are contemplating filing a writ petition asking the court to compel ADPH to conduct thorough inspections of Alabama’s abortion clinics.

Baby Q v. Kay Ivey (Montgomery, AL) —Life Legal and a local Alabama attorney filed petition for writ of mandamus on behalf of “Baby Q,” a pseudonymous African-American preborn baby, and “next of friend” Amie Beth Shaver asking the court to enforce Alabama’s Amendment 930, which recognizes the sanctity of life of unborn children. The local attorney is looking for intervenors. Hearing date anticipated once motions to intervene are filed.

The Heidi Group v Texas HHSC (Austin, TX) —Former Planned Parenthood clinic owner turned pro-life advocate received state funding to start a network of pro-life health clinics (The Heidi Group) to compete with PP. Several Texas papers published hit pieces on Carol after HHSC released results of an incomplete investigation alleging she committed fraud as she allegedly did not serve the number of clients required under the grant contract. HHSC then terminated Carol’s grant without explanation. Local attorney filed petition for depositions in preparation for possible lawsuit against HHSC. The Office of the Inspector General recently released the results of its audit, finding no evidence of fraud. We are moving forward with litigation to restore Carol’s contracts.

In the Matter of Joshua Barras (Lafayette, LA) —Wife of 37-year-old brain-injured man wants to take him home on “comfort care” without nutrition and hydration. The man’s mother wants to keep him alive. Both the wife and daughter appeared on Dr. Phil. The court granted our motion to continue food and water. Next hearing is scheduled for January 18, 2022.

Rutledge v. Little Rock Family Planning Services (AR) —Challenge to Arkansas ban on abortions sought because of a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. Eighth Circuit struck down the law as contrary to Roe and Casey. Life Legal filed an amicus brief in support of petition for certiorari arguing that the petition should be granted but not for the reasons that Arkansas gives.

Vergara v. Loeb (Los Angeles, CA)—Father of two frozen embryos in legal battle to gain custody of the embryos so he can have them implanted. The mother of the embryos wants to destroy them. The couple did not give specific instructions as to disposition of the embryos in the event of a separation. Trial court judge ruled that neither party may take any unilateral action with regard to the disposition of the embryos. We are assisting with the appeal.

Leroy Carhart (Germantown, MD)—We are assisting in two lawsuits filed by a Maryland attorney on behalf of two women who were seriously injured following late term abortions.

State of Louisiana v. Ray Whatley—Pro-lifer tapped abortion escort on the back with his cardboard sign after she blocked his conversation with a woman seeking abortion. Cited for battery. Arraignment hearing is set for December 29, 2021.

Environmental Waste Project—We are contemplating filing a lawsuit in response to a California law that requires every state-funded university to provide abortion pills on campus, which will result in the bodies of aborted fetuses entering wastewater systems. We are consulting with environmental law experts to help us to determine the potential public health risks.

Western Washington University (Bellingham, WA)—Pro-life groups attacked at Western WA University. Police action pending for using knife to destroy signs. We are contemplating civil action to include hate crime.

Jackson Women’s Health (Jackson, MS)—Deathscort who was disrupting pro-life vigil by honking her horn while driving around abortion facility hit pro-lifer Mark Godbold with her car. We are reviewing video footage to prepare for possible civil action.

Jackson Women’s Health (Jackson, MS)—Deathscorts harassed and issued death threats against pro-lifer Joshua Carroll.

Commonwealth v. Mueller, Hinshaw, Moscinski (West Chester, PA)—Red Rose Rescuers charged with felony trespass after entering abortion facility. One of the defendants agreed to diversion, defendants Moscinski and Mueller will go to trial. Arraignment hearing scheduled for November 18, 2021.

Jane Doe v. State of Louisiana et al (Lafayette, LA)—Mother of teenager filed lawsuit and TRO motion to require Louisiana juvenile courts to apply the statutory elevated evidentiary standards when hearing judicial bypass applications under LA’s parental consent law. Partial victory: Judge granted TRO prohibiting minor from seeking a judicial bypass and obtaining an abortion. LA Attorney General’s office modified their judicial bypass guidance to require courts to consider more than a minor’s own testimony prior to granting a judicial bypass. Tragically, the minor did end up getting a chemical abortion. We dismissed the case without prejudice and are working with the Solicitor General’s office on possible further legal action.

Nicholas Heald (Milwaukee, WI)—Pro-lifer distributing literature on sidewalk outside a public high school was knocked unconscious by a student as the principal looked on. We are in discussions with local counsel regarding civil action.

Michael v. Lakeside Medical Center (Los Angeles, CA)—Elderly man was declared brain dead after hospital refused to perform surgical procedure to relieve pressure to his brain. TRO was granted. Family is looking for alternate facility and/or neurologist to do independent exam.

Borowski (Boca Raton, FL)—54 y/o disabled woman’s fiancé planned to move her to hospice without food and water. Local attorney is intervening on behalf of the woman’s sister.

California Legislation and Related Cases:

SB 245: We have written letters in opposition to a bill that will force all insurance companies to make all abortions cost-free to their insureds and dependents. If the law passes, we will challenge it on the grounds that CA law requires abortion and childbirth to be treated neutrally. Bill is currently stalled in committee.