Anti-abortion activists charged for undercover Planned Parenthood videos
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The two anti-abortion activists who filmed conversations with Planned Parenthood representatives regarding buying fetal tissue were charged with 15 felony charges by California prosecutors. The two activists, David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, posed as representatives of a fake bioresearch company and met with women’s health care providers regarding buying fetal tissue.
They recorded the conversations with 14 representatives of various providers including Planned Parenthood and StemExpress, conversations that they allege expose the harvesting and selling of organs after abortions. They then edited and released the videos online. At no point did Daleiden and Merritt ever receive the consent of the other parties for the recording and releasing of the conversations, thus invading the privacy of the other parties.
State Attorney General Xavier Becerra decried the actions of Daleiden and Merritt, saying he “will not tolerate the criminal recording of conversations,” and “the right to privacy is a cornerstone of California’s Constitution, and a right that is foundational in a free democratic society,” per the LA Times.
In the official Criminal Complaint Becerra brought 15 felony charges against, 14 of which account for the 14 people unlawfully recorded, and another regarding the extent to which they “conspire[d] to commit the crime of Recording a Confidential Communications,” including accessing private documents using a password from a terminated StemExpress employee and registering their fake business as an actual, legal business with the sole purpose of infiltration.
In a statement from their attorneys, Daleiden and Merritt rejected the charges wholeheartedly, calling the charges “bogus” and blaming them on “Planned Parenthood’s political cronies,” per Fox News. They also told of future plans to release new videos showcasing “Planned Parenthood’s criminal baby body parts enterprise, in vindication of the First Amendment rights of all.”
Daleiden and Merritt spent years planning the sting video operation and have previously proven the courtroom will not stop them. They turned themselves in after similar charges were brought against them in Texas in January 2016. They posted bail and all charges were dropped by July.
U.S. District Court Judge Sam Sparks found not even a “scintilla of evidence” that Planned Parenthood committed any crime regarding harvesting and selling fetal tissue. He said the tactics used by Daleiden and Merritt, “a secretly recorded video, fake names, a grand jury indictment, congressional investigations” made more sense for a “best-selling novel” than a real judicial investigation, per the Washington Post.