The Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear the anti-abortion Center for Medical Progress' request to throw out a lawsuit from Planned Parenthood alleging that the group broke the law by secretly taping its employees discussing reimbursement for fetal tissue.
The Center for Medical Progress argued that the Planned Parenthood lawsuits interfered with the organization's right to free speech and that it violated a law in California meant to protect citizen journalists. Because the Supreme Court will not take up the case, the ruling from the 9th Circuit permitting the lawsuit to proceed remains in place.
The case did not receive the support of at least four justices, which is the threshold all cases must meet in order to receive a hearing in the Supreme Court. The justices have appeared reluctant to take up controversial topics, including those linked to abortion, after the bruising confirmation battle Justice Brett Kavanaugh faced in the Senate.
The Supreme Court has a more conservative makeup with the additions of Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch, both appointees of President Trump, leading abortion rights advocates to raise concerns over future limits to abortion.
The Center for Medical Progress is the organization that released secretly taped videos in 2015 that appeared to show Planned Parenthood staff discussing selling aborted fetal tissue for profit, a practice that is illegal.
The Center for Medical Progress misrepresented itself to Planned Parenthood as a tissue-procurement company in the videos and also accused Planned Parenthood of altering how it performs abortions in order to gather more intact specimens.
In response, Planned Parenthood sued the Center for Medical Progress, accusing the organization of violation of the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organization Act, as well as fraud, invasion of privacy, and trespassing.
Planned Parenthood has denied wrongdoing. A couple of Planned Parenthood clinics allow women to donate fetal tissue after an abortion for the purpose of medical research. Planned Parenthood used to accept funds to cover the cost of storing and transporting the tissue, but after the videos were released the organization announced it would swallow the costs.