Recordings secretly made by an anti-abortion group at meetings of abortion providers could put providers at risk and fail to show criminal wrongdoing, a federal judge said Friday, citing the recent shooting at a Colorado Planned Parenthood clinic.
U.S. District Judge William Orrick in San Francisco made the comments during a hearing over the National Abortion Federation's request for a preliminary injunction that would continue to block the release of the recordings.
Orrick did not immediately issue a ruling. He previously issued a temporary restraining order blocking the recordings pending the outcome of the preliminary injunction hearing.
Catherine Short, an attorney for the Center for Medical Progress, said there was no evidence the Colorado shooter was motivated by the group's videos or that doctors have been directly threatened. The release of the recordings is vital to furthering public discussion about topics such as whether the country's abortion laws are too loosely written, she said.
The center says in court documents its work is the equivalent of investigative journalism and protected by the First Amendment.
With files from the Associated Press.
David Daleiden, Anti-abortion activist, Center for Medical Progress
David S. Cohen, Associate Professor of Law, Drexel University; Co-author, "Living in the Crosshairs: The Untold Stories of Anti-Abortion Terrorism" (Oxford University Press; 2015)