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California Charges Anti-Abortion Activists with Felonies
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David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt

Summary: The two activists responsible for secretly recording those involved in abortions performed at Planned Parenthood are facing felony charges themselves.

The two anti-abortion activists responsible for filming undercover and largely controversial videos regarding Planned Parenthoods abortion practices were charged in California with 15 felonies. California has strict laws regarding filming conversations without consent, especially in relation to medical providers.


David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt of the Center for Medical Progress faced similar charges in Texas before they were dropped. California state prosecutors stated that Daleiden and Merritt filmed 14 people without permission between October 2013 and July 2015. The activists received a felony count for each person plus one count of criminal conspiracy to invade privacy.

Daleiden called the charges “bogus” attempts by “Planned Parenthood’s political cronies” to hide the truth. He said, “The public knows the real criminals are Planned Parenthood and their business partners.” Daleiden and Merritt used phony ID’s and a business to set up meetings with Planned Parenthood and StemExpress employees. StemExpress is a company based in California that provides blood, tissue, and other biological material for medical research. They get fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood currently receives about $500 million a year from the government for the use of cancer screenings, medical checkups, and birth control services. They are prohibited from using the funds to pay for abortions. After the release of the videos ignited the debate against abortion in 2015, Congress has been working on a way to defund the organization.

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The charges against Daleiden and Merritt state that they used fake driver’s licenses and created BioMax Procurement Services, a bogus medical research company, to attend the National Abortion Federation’s 2014 conference in San Francisco. There they recorded eight attendees and speakers. In the months after, they used their fake company to set up dinner meetings with providers, who were also recorded. One meeting was with the chief executive of StemExpress where they discussed liver tissue over dinner at a Northern California restaurant. They believe the recordings prove that Planned Parenthood has been illegally harvesting and selling the organs but Planned Parenthood argues that Daleiden and Merritt edited the recordings to support their agenda.

Daleiden posted on Facebook last year that the California Department of Justice had raided his home, taking video footage and personal items. Until the charges came Tuesday, there was no other indication that the state was going forward to file charges.

The case in Texas against the activists went through a legal roller coaster ride. The grand jury originally came together to find that Planned Parenthood had done nothing wrong and instead indicted Daleiden and Merritt. Texas prosecutors dropped the charges saying the grand jury had overstepped their authority.

In related news, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld an injunction preventing the activists from releasing the recordings. The two of the three judges that voted to uphold the injunction said, “One may not obtain information through fraud, promise to keep that information confidential, and then breach that promise in the name of the public interest.”

Do you think privacy matters when someone is doing something wrong? Why can the government secretly record people and not get in trouble? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.

To learn more about Planned Parenthood, read these articles:



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