Abortion’s Secret Society Fears ‘Grave Reputational Harm’ if Public Sees Videos

Craig Bannister | October 27, 2015
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A secret abortion society that goes to great lengths to hide its dealings from the public fears that undercover videos from its meetings will cause its members “grave reputational harm” if the public sees them.

The National Abortion Federation (NAF) takes extreme measures to ensure that its meetings and correspondence are kept secret from the public – such as making attendees sign confidentiality agreements and remove their badges when leaving meeting areas - and ensuring its name is not on any signage.

NAF is the professional association of abortion providers. Its members include individuals, private and non-profit clinics, Planned Parenthood affiliates, women’s health centers, physicians’ offices, and hospitals who together care for half the women who have abortions in the U.S. and Canada.

In its motion for a temporary restraining order (TRO) to prevent release of undercover videos taken at its meetings by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), NAF explains that it “goes to great lengths to make sure that the dates and locations of their meetings do not fall into the wrong hands.”

NAF details its efforts to keep its dealings secret:

  • “NAF does not post information about its annual meetings on its public website.”
  • “All emails about the conference remind recipients to: ‘Do not forward this email or share information about NAF meetings.’”
  • “During the conference, all signage must use a version of the NAF logo that omits the words “National Abortion Federation” so that non-meeting attendees in the hotel are not alerted to NAF’s presence.”
  • “Attendees and staff are advised to remove their conference badges when they leave the meeting areas, including in elevators, in order to decrease the chances of non-meeting attendees learning about the meeting.”
  • “All attendees must sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to gain admittance to the meeting. Under the terms of the NDA: (1) attendees must not videotape or record at the meeting.”
  • All information distributed or otherwise made available at the meeting is confidential and may only be used “to help enhance the quality and safety of services provided by NAF members and other participants.”
  • “Attendees may not disclose any information learned at the meetings to third parties, without NAF’s consent.”

NAF succeeded in obtaining a temporary restraining order prohibiting CMP from making public the undercover videos it obtained at NAF meetings.

In its motion, NAF warns that public viewing of the videos will cause will cause “grave reputational harm” to it and its members:

“As explained above, those injuries include grave reputational harm – reputational harm Defendants have already visited upon their initial victims – and even bodily injury.”

“Here, the challenged conduct poses significant reputational harm and potential safety risks to NAF employees and members which, in turn, would adversely affect the general public.”

In particular, NAF fears for the reputation and safety of its Medical Director, Dr. Matthew Reeves” and NAF member Prof. Jennifer Dunn – both of whom are featured in the videos:

“NAF, its employees, and its members fear the same vitriolic campaign will be waged against them if Defendants were to release tapes of conversations that took place at NAF’s annual meetings. Release of a video of Dr. Reeves, for example, would constitute a gross invasion of his privacy, smear his reputation, and even endanger his safety and the safety of his family.”

“Since Defendants went public with their campaign, Dr. Reeves has been forced to hire a professional security firm to install a system at his home. And Professor Dunn is concerned that she too will be smeared and her professional reputation tarnished if Defendants were to release a tape of her from the 2014 NAF annual meeting.”

In granting the restraining order, U.S. District Court Judge William H. Orrick agreed that NAF “would be likely to suffer irreparable injury” if the public found out what takes place in its secret meetings.

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