THE CENTER FOR BIO-ETHICAL REFORM PRESS RELEASE Subject: Northland Family Planning Clinic, Inc. v.

Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, case number 8:11-cv-00731-JVS-AN, United States District Court, Central District Of California, Southern Division. Date: Monday, June 18, 2012 Federal Judge James Selna, on Friday, June 15, declared the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform (CBR) to be the winner in a copyright infringement lawsuit filed against us by the abortionist who owns a chain of Michigan abortion clinics. The case involved a consumer protection video we produced to parody an abortion industry sales video, and the judge granted CBR’s Motion for Summary Judgment, ruling, in essence, that the abortion clinic’s case was too weak to even make it to trial. Northland had claimed that CBR actionably damaged their businesses and injured their reputations by appropriating footage from one of their infomercials to produce a “mocku-mentary” video, which exposed the consumer fraud by which Northland deceive and exploit vulnerable young mothers and poorly informed voters. In his opinion, the judge wrote that “Though Northland [abortion clinics] may have suffered pecuniary or reputational losses as a result of the accused [CBR] Videos, those injuries are not recognized under the Copyright Act. On balance, Defendants’ use of the Northland Video was fair.” The order itself read, “For the foregoing reasons, Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED, and Northland’s Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED.” He added that “For example, in the beginning of the accused Videos, a clip from the Northland Video plays in which the narrator says, “deciding to have an abortion is a normal decision”; then, the screen cuts to a video clip in which it appears that a fetal hand reaches out of the birth canal and gloved fingers–ostensibly those of a doctor– expose more of the hand before using forceps to rip off the appendage.” The judge also explained that “The accused Videos continue in that vein, contrasting the serene environment of the narrator’s office, her soft, conservative attire, her calm voice, and her message that women are good regardless of how they exercise their reproductive rights, with the gruesome and seemingly savage “reality” of an abortion procedure.” Northland alleged that our motive was profiteering but the court ruled that “On balance, the profit Defendants gained from the use of Northland’s copyrighted material is a minor part of the analysis in light of the transformative use of the material.”


The judge also rejected Northland’s complaint that we had ruined the marketability of their infomercial by noting that “Northland asserts that the accused Videos have diminished the value of the Northland Video and have terminated all conversations with potential licensees” but he concluded that “While this is no phantom injury, it is not recognized by the Copyright Act.” As a result of this very foolish lawsuit, we have been able to force Northland to release email messages which shed additional light on their campaign of deception and their ongoing attempt to stifle public criticism. Northland’s owner, Renee Chelian, received an email message from another “Abortion Care Network” abortionist who said our Angel of Light video “… holds you up to public scorn and ridicule and demeans your reputation ….” Ms. Chelian replies that after seeing Angel of Light video, “I am sick to my stomach ….” She added that “I am done crying now and just need to move forward but these people are so hateful and disrespectful I can’t stand it.” But how is it hateful to show viewers what Northland’s infomercial says is “sacred?” In another email message Renee Chelian told this same abortionist that “I know that they [CBR] preach to their own choir but I am worried about this.” Then she admits that the source of her worry is the possibility that we will use our video for “… anti-D&E legislation.” The term “D&E” refers to dilatation and extraction (or evacuation) abortions in which the arms and legs of babies are torn off and removed one appendage at a time. The baby goes into shock and bleeds to death. She explains that “They [antiabortion activists] are looking for new ammunition since PBA [partial-birth-abortion] is pretty much done.” Precisely, and Northland’s lawsuit is giving us the perfect forum in which to use that “ammunition.” Renee Chelian ends by conceding that “… this just makes me sick. But by now I have spent several hours crying and being miserable so I am putting on my big girl underpants and getting over it.” Ms. Chelian’s “underpants” are not the sort of word picture over which we are inclined to linger, but she is right to fear a political backlash as more and more voters see our Angel of Light video. D&E is a viciously savage procedure and voters who see it aren’t likely to think it should be lawful. Then the narrator of the Northland infomercial we mocked forwarded a message to Ms. Chelian which said, “… it’s despicable what Gregg Cunningham, CBR did ….” How can it be “despicable” to show the public something which Northland’s infomercial says it is an “honor” to do? Another abortionist sent Ms. Chelian a similar a message (with copies to the Abortion Care Network) saying “I also watched and it was so painful to see such a sincere and good piece of work treated so shabbily. It’s really hard to have to confront these things, emotionally big downers.” It apparently isn’t an “emotional downer” to kill these babies – just to be caught lying about killing them. Renee Chelian then repeats that “I am sick to my stomach as are my entire staff.” She also says “This is just wrong and hard at so many levels” and that “This is the second time we have been attacked by an anti-abortion group for this video.”


Ms. Chelian was represented by the law firm of Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett, which had an amazing seven of their attorneys in the courtroom for our Motion for Summary Judgment hearing. According to, “The firm ranked 21st on The American Lawyer's 2011 Am Law 100 rankings of U.S. law firms by revenue, with gross revenue of $923,500,000 in 2010. Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett has been in the top 25 of the annual Am Law 100 rankings since 1986. In the 2011 Global 100 survey, the firm was ranked as the 25th highest grossing law firm in the world. With 810 attorneys, Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett placed thirty-fourth on the National Law Journal's 2011 NLJ 250 rankings of firms based on size.” Impressive, but unhelpful. The abortion industry lost and will lose again if our next video target also wants to try us in court.


Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful