Public employees fighting to keep their identities secret in abortion body parts case

Public employees at the University of Washington are arguing that the First Amendment gives them the right to have their identities concealed in a case involving the sale of body parts for medical research. The 9th circuit court just heard arguments on the case that grew out of an undercover video by David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress.


The case is Jane Does 1-10, et al v. David Daleiden, in which he as an investigative journalist is seeking information about the public employees working in a research lab at the university and what they’ve done, and abortion facility personnel.

They all “want their involvement in research using aborted baby body parts to remain secret,” according to officials with the Thomas More Society, which is representing Daleiden in this case.

They “have gone to court to force heavy redactions to the public documents. However, that is contrary to the law, which says that those documents must be released because they detail their work procuring, processing, and transferring the organs and tissue of aborted babies in connection with the university’s large taxpayer-funded fetal tissue research program,” the organization explains.

“Washington State’s Public Records Act requires full disclosure, but a lower court ordered the redactions, holding that the First Amendment required them. A panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit reversed that decision, unanimously holding that the district court had not provided the facts and law sufficient to make a ‘clear showing’ that the U.S. Constitution requires the heavy censoring of these public records. The case returned to the district court and is now, again, before the federal appeals court,” the group explained.

A ruling on the concealment demand is expected shortly, but the legal team said Circuit Judge M. Margaret McKeown called it a “very interesting case.”

“She, along with Senior Circuit Court Judge A. Wallace Tashima and Circuit Judge Jacqueline H. Nguyen, heard Thomas More Society Special Counsel Peter Breen argue that, ‘This case has nothing to do with academic freedom or expression – the requested injunction in no way touches research.'”

It's ironic that such a "simple medical procedure" would generate secrecy worthy of America's nuclear arsenal. Planned Parenthood has refused to release mortality statistics on abortions performed by them, and many other records have been denied investigators as PP cites confidentiality agreements and proprietary interests. 

In this case, UW employees want to hide information about who uses baby parts, bought from brokers, in research. One would think they would be proud of the research they do and would want the whole world to know it. Do they know they're doing something wrong and are ashamed of their role?

This case is far from over, as are several other lawsuits brought against the CMP by abortion providers and body part brokers. The spokesman for the legal team from the Thomas More Society arguing the case questions the First Amendment argument used by UW employees: "How can you say that you are being ‘chilled’ if you’ve put yourself out there in national media on the abortion issue?” 

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