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How a Lawsuit in Florida Debunked One of Planned Parenthood’s Most Misleading Claims

November 4, 2019

By: Keith Arago and Maureen Arago, Arago Law Firm, PLLC, Kissimmee, Florida

We are writing this article on October 31, 2019, the last day Planned Parenthood will perform surgical abortion in its Osceola County, Florida location. Tomorrow, many Christians throughout the world will celebrate All Saints Day. We will, with mixed emotions, recognize on that special day the fruit of years of labor and support from our saintly friends in Heaven and on Earth. We will express gratitude for all those who made it possible that, for the first time in more than five years, no surgical abortions will take place at the Osceola Planned Parenthood location.

In prosecuting a real estate issue – the violation of a recorded land restriction – we saw the magnitude of Planned Parenthood’s abortion business. Up until 2013, abortions were virtually unheard of in Osceola County, Florida. But Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando, which had been operating abortion facilities in the neighboring Orange County (Orlando), where it had just shown a profit the year prior of more than $500,000, decided to expand. After Planned Parenthood moved into the county, it recorded 4,553 abortions here from 2014 to 2018.

The real estate dispute arose in 2013, when Planned Parenthood purchased a location in the medical community of Oak Commons. When local doctors learned of Planned Parenthood’s intention to open an abortion facility directly across from the labor and delivery unit of Osceola Regional Hospital, they publicly expressed understandable concern. Our client, MMB Properties, was particularly concerned because its new neighbor expressed intent to perform surgical abortions. According to Oak Commons’ land restrictions, most surgical activities such as abortion would be in violation, unless the surgery in question was “ancillary and incidental” to a physician’s practice of medicine.

Battling a Giant

Rather than placidly accept this violation, MMB stepped up and filed a lawsuit. MMB requested that the court uphold the land restrictions, temporarily stop Planned Parenthood from performing abortions, and ultimately permanently stop the surgical abortions. Planned Parenthood prepared a defense centered on the common misrepresentation that abortion is only 1% of its services. After an emergency hearing, the local court upheld the restrictions and entered a temporary injunction against Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood appealed the temporary injunction, and during the appeal MMB could not enforce the temporary injunction. So Planned Parenthood opened for business and started performing abortions. Abortions in Osceola climbed from the initial zero in 2013 to 85 in 2014; by 2015, abortions jumped to 661.

The appellate Court affirmed the local court’s ruling that surgical abortions were a violation of the land restrictions, but Planned parenthood appealed again, this time to the Florida Supreme Court.

During that time—in 2016—1,467 abortions were performed in the county. The same year, Planned Parenthood Federation of America donated $1,685,424 to its affiliate that operated in Osceola County, and offered its national staff attorneys for the lawsuit.

Though battling a giant, MMB was not intimidated. MMB welcomed the support of allies, including Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), and stood toe-to-toe with Planned Parenthood.

And in 2017, the Florida Supreme Court ruled. At first glance, this might have seemed like a victory for Planned Parenthood, because for the first time the Court did not agree with the other courts that MMB had sufficient evidence to dispute Planned Parenthood’s claim that a small percentage of its business was abortion—less than 1 percent.

But it was actually an important victory for MMB because the Court sent the case back to the local court to consider a permanent injunction on additional evidence on the 1% question. The Florida Supreme Court, along with the lower courts, agreed with MMB that surgical activities, such as surgical abortions, could only be performed in the community if they were ancillary and incidental to a physician’s practice of medicine, and more evidence was needed on that question.

Even Planned Parenthood admitted to the Florida Supreme Court that it may not prevail at trial if it was required to prove that abortion makes up only a small percentage of its activities.

Abortion Is Planned Parenthood’s Main Revenue Source

Thereafter, the facts confirmed what both MMB and Planned Parenthood already knew: Surgical abortions are central to Planned Parenthood’s activity. The facts revealed that:

  1. The 1% figure was derived from making a list of all the activities Planned Parenthood personnel participate in, without consideration of frequency or volume.
  2. Contract doctors were paid per procedure and received up to a remarkable 97 percent of their income from abortions.
  3. Doctors “traveled the circuit,” driving from clinic to clinic to perform abortions, spending up to 70 percent of their time on surgical abortions.
  4. Abortions were scheduled by an out-of-town call center to be performed by unnamed doctors, and in some cases, patients reported that the doctor remained anonymous to the patient throughout.
  5. Instead of charity, callers were offered discounts as incentives to have abortions. Planned Parenthood doctors and affiliates did not suffer from the discounts as they were reimbursed by Planned Parenthood Federation “Justice Funds.”
  6. Planned Parenthood staff, including call center staff, had revenue goals to meet.

The specific details were nauseating. For example, Planned Parenthood’s abortion techniques included manual vacuum aspiration, electromechanical suction, and fetal dismemberment. During one period of time, doctors were instructed to use digoxin to stop fetal hearts. Staff were instructed to find the dismembered fetus’ calvarium, spine, and four extremities. Again, ultimately Planned Parenthood recorded 4,553 abortions in Osceola Country from 2014 to 2018.

Planned Parenthood Can’t Handle the Truth

Planned Parenthood did not want to present these facts to the court after already misrepresenting its abortion statistics. So, it resorted to other tactics. Most notably, it tried intimidating MMB with a last-minute counter lawsuit, but the court correctly denied the attempt.

But after forcing MMB to litigate for nearly five years, and only weeks before trial, Planned Parenthood finally relented and agreed to an order permanently stopping surgical abortions. The Permanent Injunction is effective November 1, 2019, All Saints Day.

Alliance Defending Freedom

Alliance Defending Freedom

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Alliance Defending Freedom advocates for your right to freely live out your faith

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