In 2015, two officials from the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released a series of gruesome videos suggesting that Planned Parenthood was involved in the sale of fetal tissue.
The videos sparked a wave of outrage that helped propel Republicans to victory last November and led to investigations in 12 states. Since then, conservative lawmakers have proposed (but failed to pass) several bills to defund the organization.
The GOP-backed American Health Care Act, which passed through the House last week and is currently being negotiated in the Senate, aims to cut federal funding from Planned Parenthood for at least one year.
The infamous videos were filmed by CMP officials David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, who posed as representatives of a fake biotechnology company in order to gain entry into abortion facilities. Their disguises included fake government IDs.
Merritt and Daleiden managed to record hundreds of hours of meetings and conversations. In March, California prosecutors charged Daleiden and Merritt with “recording people without consent.”
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has charged the pair with a whopping 15 felony charges, including criminal conspiracy to invade privacy and 14 counts of filming people without permission.
“The right to privacy is a cornerstone of California’s Constitution,” argues Becerra. “And a right that is foundational in a free democratic society. We will not tolerate the criminal recording of confidential conversations.”
Daleiden says the “bogus” charges were brought by “Planned Parenthood’s political cronies” and suggested that he has more footage to release. “We look forward to showing the entire world what is on our yet-unreleased video tapes of Planned Parenthood’s criminal baby body parts enterprise, in vindication of the First Amendment rights of all.”
Planned Parenthood continues to deny any wrongdoing, but has restricted affiliated clinics from accepting money in exchange for fetal tissue.
“Planned Parenthood has done nothing wrong,” said PP spokeswoman Mary Alice Carter. “The only people who broke the law are those behind the fraudulent tapes.”
As reported last week by WND, Merritt turned herself in on the charge that she had recorded people’s discussions without consent. Her legal team says it took three judges over 10 hours for Merritt to be released on bail – which was set at a shocking $75,000. She faces up to 11 years in prison.
The Liberty Counsel lawyers defending her call the charges “outrageous and baseless” and criticize Becerra for charging Merritt rather than “investigation and prosecuting Planned Parenthood, which donated thousands of dollars to his political campaigns.”
As the lawyers point out, “no other citizen or journalist or journalism organization has ever been charged with a crime for undercover recording.”
Daleiden and Merritt responded to the charges by releasing yet another video, in which a former PP medical operator explains how she makes sure to dismember babies before removal in order to minimize the visual impact.
“It’s not a matter of how I felt…I’ve got to worry about my staff, and you know, people’s feelings about it, coming out looking like a baby,” said DeShawn Taylor.
Author’s Note: In my opinion, we should be focused on what was exposed by CMP’s investigation, not on how that information was acquired.
What Daleiden and Merritt did may have been illegal, but what Planned Parenthood is doing is far worse. As it stands, Planned Parenthood is still receiving $500 million in federal funding, and the whistleblowers are about to be thrown in jail.