SAN FRANCISCO — An association of abortion providers moved Friday to block the release of recordings it claims were made by an anti-abortion group that has previously revealed secretly recorded videos of a Planned Parenthood leader discussing the use of aborted fetuses for research.
The National Abortion Federation sued in federal court in San Francisco, alleging that the Center for Medical Progress infiltrated its meetings and recorded its members. The group says release of any audio or video would put providers in danger.
"The safety and security of our members is our top priority," Vicki Saporta, association president and CEO, said in a statement. "That security has been compromised by the illegal activities of a group with ties to those who believe it is justifiable to murder abortion providers."
David Daleiden, a leader of the Center for Medical Progress who is also named in the suit, said in a statement that Planned Parenthood and its allies were trying to silence the group and suppress investigative journalism.
"The Center for Medical Progress follows all applicable laws in the course of our investigative journalism work and will contest all attempts from Planned Parenthood and their allies to silence our First Amendment rights," he said.
The lawsuit alleges the Center for Medical Progress created a fake company to get into the federation's annual meetings in 2014 and 2015 and then recorded its members with the goal of smearing those who support abortion rights.
The suit seeks a temporary restraining order barring the release of any video or audio recordings, the dates of any of the federation's future meetings and the names and addresses of its members.
The Center for Medical Progress has released several secretly recorded videos that have riled anti-abortion activists. It has accused Planned Parenthood of selling fetal tissue for profit, which is illegal.
In one of the videos, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood's senior director of medical services, describes techniques for obtaining fetal body parts for research over lunch to activists posing as potential buyers from a human biologics company.
Planned Parenthood says it abides by a law that allows providers to be reimbursed for the costs of processing tissue donated by women who have had abortions. The payments cited by Planned Parenthood officials in the videos range from $30 to $100 per specimen, and the organization has subsequently confirmed that is the general range, although there is no fixed price list.
A California court this week issued a temporary restraining order blocking the Center for Medical Progress from releasing any video of leaders of StemExpress, a California company that provides fetal tissue to researchers.
In one of the previously aired videos, a woman identified as a former StemExpress phlebotomist describes drawing blood and dissecting dead fetuses.
Associated Press National Writer David Crary in New York contributed to this report.