Law & the Courts

Planned Parenthood Asked News Outlets to Submit to NDAs for Media Happy Hour

Sign on a Planned Parenthood building in New York in 2015. (Lucas Jackson/Reuters)

Planned Parenthood has backtracked on a non-disclosure agreement it asked reporters attending a media happy hour to abide by, claiming the move was an error.

Vice News said it was the second time the nation’s largest abortion provider asked the news outlet to sign an NDA, the first being when reporter Carter Sherman signed up to cover the organization’s “Power of Pink” volunteer training in Detroit last year. The NDA for that event involved an agreement not to share “confidential information.”

After a Vice News reporter pushed back on the NDA, Planned Parenthood emailed the members of the media who signed up for the happy hour and informed them they would be required to abide by it, claiming the NDA had been mistakenly emailed to reporters by a new employee.

Planned Parenthood’s senior communications director Erica Sackin acknowledged that Planned Parenthood made mistakes in how it handled media coverage for the event but denied that the organization has an “official policy” of requiring NDA agreements from reporters, calling it a “miscommunication.”

“That said, our interactions with reporters around this have been less than perfect,” Sackin told Vice. “It is not — and has not been — our official policy to require any reporter to sign an NDA that would prevent them from reporting an event we’re asking them to cover, or for informal off-the-record events. In instances when we have asked reporters to do so, it has been the result of miscommunication and misunderstanding between staff, or of staff members out of an abundance of caution enforcing rules that should not apply to journalists.”

“Planned Parenthood is proud of the work we do to ensure that journalists and editors have access to the incredible staff, patients, services, and education that we provide,” Sackin told Vice News. “We pride ourselves on our transparency, and our support for freedom of the press as a pillar of our democracy.”

Planned Parenthood is known to be cagey in its interactions with reporters and outsiders in general, particularly after undercover investigators recorded surreptitious video of abortion industry executives, including some from Planned Parenthood, talking openly about the organization’s procurement of fetal body parts for researchers.

A federal civil trial in San Francisco’s U.S. District Court ended Friday when the jury awarded Planned Parenthood over $2.2 million in its verdict against undercover activist David Daleiden. Planned Parenthood and ten of its abortion affiliates brought the case against Daleiden and his pro-life organization, the Center for Medical Progress, accusing the activists of fraud, trespassing, and making illegal secret recordings.

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