A pro-life pair who allegedly pulled off the great Planned Parenthood “baby parts” videos ruse that began hitting the Internet in 2015 have been charged with 15 felonies in California for their efforts. The duo, David Robert Daleiden, and Sandra Susan Merritt, are facing 14 invasion of privacy felony counts as well as one count of conspiracy to invade privacy stemming from the videos that attempted to deal a death-blow to Planned Parenthood and which even spawned a fruitless congressional investigation into the family planning non-profit.
According to California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, the duo of so-called activists “used manufactured identities and a fictitious bioresearch company to meet women’s healthcare providers and covertly record the private discussions they initiated.” What’s more, according to the Attorney General, Daleiden and Merritt violated the Constitution while they allegedly violated the privacy of their victims by secretly recording confidential conversations.
“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.”
As NBC News reports, Daleiden and Merritt stand accused (in court documents filed Tuesday) of faking their identities (they called themselves “Robert Sarkis” and “Susan Tennenbaum”) and making up and registering a non-existent company, Biomax Procurement Services. The pair allegedly went so far as to obtain fake driver’s licenses and registering their made-up company with their fraudulent documentation.
The purpose of the anti-abortion advocates’ efforts? The pair stands accused of infiltrating the 2014 conference for the National Abortion Federation in San Francisco. Once inside the California event, the pro-life pair secretly recorded private conversations with attendees, including vendors and speakers, in an attempt to “expose” Planned Parenthood.
The pair kept up their efforts to demonize Planned Parenthood by secretly recording conversations that would later become parts of the notorious “baby parts” videos. They are said to have continued their harassment of Planned Parenthood’s interests until September 2015. In that time, they are accused of meeting with and secretly recording 14 reps from six (or more) California biomedical research companies.
While the pro-life activists, who call themselves “citizen journalists,” are now facing 15 felonies in connection with their anti-Planned Parenthood crusade, they did serious damage to the Planned Parenthood organization and brand with their efforts. Their so-called “baby parts” videos began to show up online at the Center for Medical Progress website in July of 2015. The accused claim affiliation with the anti-abortion group.
Once the Planned Parenthood baby parts videos hit the Internet, the effects were explosive and instantaneous. In the videos, which have been described as extremely heavily edited, the biomedical representatives are portrayed as negotiating the sale/purchase of fetal remains (aka “baby parts”) through Planned Parenthood for medical and scientific research.
Many of the secretly recorded participants in the Planned Parenthood baby parts videos have had their lives turned upside down, even claiming to have received death threats as a result of the allegedly fraudulent actions of Daleiden and Merritt.
This isn’t the first time that the pro-life duo involved in creating the Planned Parenthood baby parts videos have faced legal drama as a result of their alleged action. Texas levied charges of tampering with government documents and buying and selling human organs against the pair in early 2016. Those charges, however, were later dismissed. It is worth noting, however, that the State of Texas has a decidedly more pro-life court system than California, where Daleiden and Merritt are currently charged with 15 felonies apiece.
Even so, Daleiden at least is putting on a brave front on social media, even bragging that the charges against the pro-life activist caused the Texas DA to be ousted.
The Center for Medical Progress is also remaining defiant in the wake of the 15 felony charges connected to the now-infamous Planned Parenthood baby parts videos. In fact, the group released a statement vowing to release even more Planned Parenthood baby parts videos and calling the charges against Daleiden and Merritt “bogus” and “motivated by Planned Parenthood’s political cronies.”
“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 the aftermath of the release of the illegally obtained videos, Planned Parenthood withstood a firestorm of public and political animosity. Congressional hearings cleared the organization of legal wrong-doing, and many state and federal initiatives to defund the family planning nonprofit have so far been unsuccessful. The threat of de-funding, however, remains under the new Trump administration.
A spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Mary Alice Carter, released a statement regarding the 15 felony charges now hanging over the heads of the unapologetic creators of the baby parts videos, calling the charges “a clear message that you cannot target women and you cannot target health care providers without consequences.”
“As we have said from the beginning, and as more than a dozen different state investigations have made clear: Planned Parenthood has done nothing wrong, and the only people who broke the law are those behind the fraudulent tapes.”
At this point, neither Daleiden nor Merritt have listed defense attorneys in their California Planned Parenthood baby parts video cases.
[Featured Image by Bob Levey/AP Images]