Friday, July 22, 2016

Planned Parenthood loses motion to dismiss claims of libel related to assertions of violence

(July 22, 2016 – Geneva, IL) Today, an order was entered in Kane County Circuit Court, Geneva, Illinois, denying a motion to dismiss by Planned Parenthood of Illinois and its former head, Steve Trombley, in a defamation lawsuit brought by the Thomas More Society, alleging that Planned Parenthood lied when it tried to tie the Pro-Life Action League to violence in four separate public communications. These included full-page ads in area newspapers, Daily Herald and Aurora Beacon News, a letter to City of Aurora aldermen and a related press release. The libel case was filed in 2007, in the wake of controversy over the Planned Parenthood location in Aurora, Illinois, and in response to accusations made in the publications by Planned Parenthood and Trombley that the Pro-Life Action League had a “well documented history of advocating violence.”

One of the full-page advertisements included a photo of a bombed-out abortion clinic in Michigan. 

The first ad, which ran in the Beacon on September 6, 2007, was followed by a “cease and desist” letter from the Thomas More Society on behalf their clients.  This letter demanded a “prompt and public retraction of false, libelous, and malicious statements.”  Planned Parenthood responded with an ad that was more inflammatory and accusatory than the original.

“No one should have to suffer the kind of vicious and false accusations of violence that the Pro-Life Action League has suffered,” said Thomas More Society Special Counsel Peter Breen. “This ruling means that the Pro-Life Action League will finally have the opportunity to clear its name in court against Planned Parenthood’s lies. The League twice beat Planned Parenthood and the abortion industry before the U.S. Supreme Court in a related case, and we look forward to mounting a vigorous prosecution of these defamation claims.” 

The abortion provider’s defense cited a jury verdict in the trial court in NOW v. Scheidler [], a verdict reversed and vacated in two decisions by the United States Supreme Court.  That long running case, brought by abortion clinics and the National Organization for Women against the Pro-Life Action League and its founder Joseph Scheidler, father of current League executive director Eric Scheidler.  That suit sought to apply federal racketeering laws, intended to stop organized crime, to the League’s peaceful pro-life advocacy. 

This case had been delayed for years, due to appeals on issues unrelated to the merits of the defamation claims brought by the Pro-Life Action League. 

Read the order entered in Kane County Circuit Court, Geneva, Illinois, today denying a motion to dismiss by Planned Parenthood here 

Read the Thomas More Society’s current Complaint in the Circuit Court for the Sixteenth Judicial Circuit – Kane County, Illinois here 

A copy of the original Beacon News ad is available here. 

Find background on the Thomas More Society’s involvement in Scheidler v. Trombley here.

About the Thomas More Society

Thomas More Society is a national not-for-profit law firm dedicated to restoring respect in law for life, family, and religious liberty. Headquartered in Chicago, the Thomas More Society fosters support for these causes by providing high quality pro bono legal services from local trial courts all the way up to the United States Supreme Court. Visit

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