Life Legal Cases to Watch

PENDING CASES:

Planned Parenthood v. Center for Medical Progress, et al. (San Francisco, CA): In January 2016, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and a number of PP affiliates sued the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), undercover journalists David Daleiden, Sandra Merritt, and Adrian Lopez, as well as CMP Board Members Albin Rhomberg and Troy Newman in federal court to punish 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 95%. However, after a six-week trial, the jury found for Plaintiffs PP on most of the remaining claims and damages. Judge William Orrick denied all of Defendants’ post-trial motions, so the jury’s verdict stands unless overturned on appeal. Some defendants posted a $600,000 bond, but Plaintiffs moved to increase the bond to $3 million in light of PP being awarded approximately $14 million in fees, expenses, and costs. Life Legal has not posted any bond in this case, as we refuse to commit donor funds that could enrich PP attorneys. We are appealing the verdict and filed our opening brief on behalf of Life Legal client Albin Rhomberg in February 2021. Rhomberg was sued in his capacity as a founding board member of CMP.

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 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. We are assisting to help Carol clear her name and reopen the medical clinic. HHSC appears to be open to a settlement, however the AG’s office has not responded to attorney’s settlement offer.

Ahn v. Hestrin (Riverside, CA): In June 2016, Life Legal filed a constitutional challenge to California’s End of Life Option Act (EOLA), which legalizes physician-assisted suicide, 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, then CA 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, 2020, Plaintiffs filed their opening brief on appeal on the case. 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 is considering amending the EOLA in various ways, including shortening the 15-day period required to obtain the lethal drugs to 48 hours. This raises the question of whether a subsequent amendment to a law wrongfully enacted in a special session effectively re-enacts the law properly, thus mooting the special session prong of the challenge.

People v. Survivors and Pro-life SF (San Francisco, CA): Baby body parts experimentation protest at UCSF resulted in several arrests. It is unclear whether charges have been filed, as local Life Legal attorney Mike Millen could find nothing on the calendar. We are considering filing a civil action against the city.

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 on July 19, 2021.

40 Days Case in Maryland (Baltimore, MD): Young 40-day participant (Chiara Hollingshead) was attacked outside an abortion mill in Baltimore. The city filed criminal charges against the assailant and he pled guilty. Allison discussing possibility of civil suit.

State of Louisiana v. Puckett and Goodman (Baton Rouge, LA): Red Rose Rescuers were arrested for failure to disburse after they entered an abortion clinic to save babies and moms. Trial was originally set for March, but has been rescheduled for Summer 2021.

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.

Wisconsin v. Heald (Milwaukee, WI): Prolife protester was cited for violating stay-at-home order. Charges pending. Life Legal attorney Frank Schiro is handling the case.

Bubble Zone/Noise Law (Jackson MS): Life Legal is monitoring the implementation and enforcement of the law. So far, it does not appear to be posing problems for the sidewalk counselors.

Alabama Department of Public Health: 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.

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

Bud Reeves, et al (Roseville, CA): Elderly pro-life advocates were viciously attacked on the public sidewalk outside a Planned Parenthood near Sacramento. Assailant was cited for elder abuse, assault, and theft. District attorney declined to prosecute. We are evaluating options.

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. Trial scheduled for July 8, 2021.

People v. Moscinski, et al (Stow, OH): Red Rose Rescuers arrested for failure to disperse after they entered an abortion mill in Cuyahoga Falls, OH to pray for babies and talk to women with abortion appointments. The mill has been cited for numerous health code violations. Trial scheduled for July 9, 2021.

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.

Vaccine Mandates: Life Legal has received hundreds of inquiries regarding how to opt out of vaccine mandates by people who oppose taking “the Jab” because of the connection to aborted fetal cell lines. We have been successful in obtaining exemptions and religious accomodations.

AMICUS BRIEFS:

Dobbs v. JWHO (Jackson, MS): The last remaining abortion clinic in Mississippi filed a lawsuit to challenge the state’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks. Life Legal filed an amicus brief in support of the abortion ban, 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. The Supreme Court will hear this case in the 2021-2022 term. This case is at the front of the line to challenge Roe and Casey.

People v. Griepp (Queens, NY): The Attorney General of New York targeted two groups of pro-lifers at a clinic in Jamaica, Queens, for a lengthy investigation and a lawsuit for violating FACE and similar state and city laws. Thomas More Society, Liberty Counsel, and Thomas More Law Center represent the individual pro-lifers. After a three-week preliminary hearing, the federal district court judge found (almost) no wrongdoing and denied an injunction. The AG appealed, and a 3 judge panel of the Second Circuit Court of Appeals decided 2-1 that there had been or could have been several FACE violations, based on, e.g., a woman having to stop for “a second at most” or consensual conversation with people in cars. TMS filed a petition for rehearing en banc. Life Legal filed an amicus in support of the petition, on behalf of 40 Days for Life, Californians for Life, Pro-Life Action Ministries, and Issues for Life. On May 28, 2021, the panel voted to rehear the case. For more information read this Federalist article.

Mahanoy (PA) School District v. B.L. (Mahanoy, PA): Supreme Court case concerning whether schools can discipline students for off campus speech on social media. B.L. won in the lower courts. Life Legal, concerned about the implications to off-campus pro-life speech, filed an amicus brief arguing the petition should be dismissed as improvidently granted. The Supreme Court heard oral argument on April 28, 2021.

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

Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany v. Lacewell (New York) – Free exercise challenge to New York regulation requiring all insurance policies to pay for “medically necessary” abortions. Life Legal will likely file an amicus brief in support of the petition for certiorari.

RESOLVED:

VICTORY! Gribbin v. Chasan (Washington, DC): A peaceful sidewalk advocate was attacked while counseling outside a DC Planned Parenthood and suffered injuries. Local police having taken no action, Life Legal filed a civil lawsuit on behalf of pro-lifer. The lawsuit was stalled after Chasan’s attorney died. Earlier this year, Chasan settled favorable for an undisclosed amount.

Marlene Chase (Shoreline, WA): Court-appointed guardian of elderly woman sought to put her in hospice care over the objections of her daughter. Court authorized hospice even though the woman is not terminally ill. Guardian is being paid from the woman’s estate. The woman died in June 2021 shortly after the guardian moved her to hospice.

VICTORY! Louisiana v. Kovalcik (New Orleans, LA): Deathscort outside abortion facility accused pro-lifer of “assault” and pro-lifer was later cited for disturbing the peace. All charges against the pro-lifer were dismissed.

VICTORY! Everett Washington: Police erected metal barricades in front of a Planned Parenthood abortion mill to keep pro-lifers off the public sidewalk. We issued letters to the Everett City attorney and Chief of Police demanding they stop interfering with constitutionally-protected speech. The barricades were removed.