Activists hold signs as they rally in supportReuters

Planned Parenthood filed a federal lawsuit on Thursday arguing that a group acted illegally when it secretly recorded videos alleging the women's health organization profited from selling fetal tissue from abortions.

The lawsuit filed in federal court in San Francisco against anti-abortion group the Center for Medical Progress alleges conspiracy and fraud among other violations in connection with the videos.

The videos, which were released by the Center for Medical Progress in July 2015, sparked widespread controversy by purporting to show Planned Parenthood officials trying to sell aborted fetal tissue.

Under federal law, donated human fetal tissue may be used for research, but profiting from its sale is prohibited.


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"This case is about a network of anti-abortion extremists and the laws they broke in order to spread lies and harm Planned Parenthood," Dawn Laguens, vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said on a conference call.

The Center for Medical Progress and several of its officials named as defendants in the lawsuit could not be immediately reached for comment.

No Planned Parenthood staff were involved in any wrongdoing, Laguens said, and the organization has not profited from its tissue donation programs.

"This entire smear campaign is a fraud built on illegal acts and a web of lies," she said.

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