On March 28, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed 15 felony charges in the state Superior Court in San Francisco against David Daleiden, the founder of the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), and his associate Sandra Merritt. Becerra alleged that Daleiden (shown) and Merritt had invaded the privacy of staff personnel at Planned Parenthood by filming undercover videos of themselves trying to buy fetal tissue from the abortion provider.
The case is The People of the State of California v. David Robert Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, with Becerra, Senior Assistant Attorney General Robert Morgester, and Deputy Attorney General Johnette Jauron listed as attorneys for the state of California.
Becerra said in a statement released with the charges:
The right to privacy is a cornerstone of California’s Constitution, and a right that is foundational in a free democratic society. We will not tolerate the criminal recording of confidential conversations.
Of the 15 charges brought against Daleiden and Merritt, 14 involved eavesdropping and recording “confidential communication between themselves and” various unnamed “Does” by means of “an electronic amplifying and recording device.”
The 15th charge alleged that Daleiden and Merritt, under the business name of Biomax Procurement Services, signed an exhibitor agreement and paid a $3225 registration fee to apply for exhibit space at the San Francisco NAF (National Abortion Federation) conference. (One would think that paying that hefty registration fee would grant them free access to participate in the conference as they saw fit, but then they did the unthinkable!)
Apparently, Daleiden and Merritt committed an unspeakable “crime” and “secretly recorded conference speakers, vendors, and attendees.”
They also, charges the complaint, “set up and secretly video recorded private meetings with health care professionals” in four California cities.
In case one wonders what the NAF consists of, a note on the group’s website explains:
The National Abortion Federation (NAF) is the professional association of abortion providers. Our members include individuals, private and non-profit clinics, Planned Parenthood affiliates, women’s health centers, physicians’ offices, and hospitals who together care for approximately half the women who choose abortion in the U.S. and Canada each year. Our members also include public hospitals and both public and private clinics in Mexico City and private clinics in Colombia. Our mission is to ensure safe, legal, and accessible abortion care, which promotes health and justice for women.
The nature of the conference where Daleiden and Merritt surreptitiously recorded events, therefore, was unabashedly held for the purpose of allowing those engaged in the business of killing unborn babies to exchange ideas and methodology related to baby killing. It was not a venue (for example) where government agencies exchanged top secret information that would threaten national security if disseminated. If the matters at hand were so secret that the act of exposing them justified criminal charges being brought, maybe the explanation is that the people participating in the conference were simply up to no good. Otherwise, why all the secrecy? If someone had secretly videotaped a conference of people whose hobby was growing African violets, would anyone have bothered bringing charges against them? Who would care?
In a post on the NAF’s webpage, Vicki Saporta, president and CEO of the National Abortion Federation (NAF), asserts:
As we’ve known all along, David Daleiden and his co-conspirators are the ones who broke the law, not abortion providers. In order to launch their smear campaign, Daleiden and Merritt engaged in a long-running illegal conspiracy. They should be held accountable for their actions, which have put abortion providers and others at risk.
At risk of what, one might ask. Certainly the abortion providers are not as much at risk as the thousands of unborn babies whose lives are terminated in Planned Parenthood facilities every year.
This is not the first time that charges have been brought against Daleiden and Merritt. As we reported in our article last June 15, a Harris County, Texas, grand jury, which was called to evaluate charges against Planned Parenthood, inexplicably turned on Daleiden and Merritt and indicted them, instead.
However, on June 13, a Houston judge dismissed a misdemeanor charge of attempting to buy human organs against Daleiden, who had secretly videotaped Planned Parenthood officials in Houston.
Daleiden and Merritt were indicted on charges of tampering with a government record: showing fake driver’s licenses when gaining admission to the Planned Parenthood facility.
In an article posted by The New American in February, 2016, soon after those charges were filed, John F. McManus, president emeritus of The John Birch Society, posed the question: “Which is Worse: Abortion or a Fake Driver’s License?”
A Texas grand jury looking into the matter concluded surprisingly that Planned Parenthood had done no wrong and, instead, indicted the two videographers, David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt. They were charged with a felony, the tampering of a driver’s license. And Daleiden was further charged with seeking to purchase fetal tissue. Yes, he created a phony license and yes, he admitted telling Planned Parenthood personnel of his desire to purchase what they were selling. He didn’t really want some body parts of infants torn from a woman’s womb. And he felt it necessary to hide his real identity with the marked-up license. He got what he set out to obtain and people throughout the nation saw televised evidence of Planned Parenthood personnel negotiating such deals....
Unless the charges against Daleiden and Merritt are dropped, they could end up being the only criminals associated with the horrifying practice they exposed. Abortion and the side practice of sharing body parts of infants will be granted additional legality. And should the current thinking hold, doctoring a driver’s license in order to expose what Planned Parenthood does with funding that it obtains from the American people surely will be considered the greater crime.
Commenting on the charges against Daleiden and Merritt, Representative Diane Black (R-Tenn.), who worked as a nurse for four decades and authored the House-approved Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015, said: “It is a sad day in America when those who harvest the body parts of aborted babies escape consequences for their actions, while the courageous truth-tellers who expose their misdeeds are handed down a politically motivated indictment instead.”
Fortunately the sad day for Daleiden and Merritt ended when the judge in Texas dismissed the charges against them. But now they are in for another round of litigation in California.
In a phone interview with the Washington Post after the charges were announced in California on March 28, Daleiden said they were “completely bogus” and that the conversations he recorded were not confidential. He pointed to a September 2015 congressional hearing during which Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, called the setting of some of the recorded clinical conversations “nonconfidential.”
“Planned Parenthood’s own CEO might have to be the first witness that we call in opposition to the charges that are being brought,” Daleiden said, adding that his work in exposing the conversations was “citizen journalism par excellence.”
Photo of David Daleiden: AP Images