The unjust prosecution of David Daleiden could have a devastating impact on more than just the abortion debate, a leading attorney in the case said this week.
Daleiden could be sent to jail simply for exposing Planned Parenthood’s baby body parts harvesting practices. But his criminal prosecution also could “chill undercover work” for all journalists, said Thomas Brejcha, founder, president and chief counsel of the Thomas More Society, which represents Daleiden.
“Possible prison sentences and burdensome fines attached to criminal conduct cannot be ignored in this debate,” Brejcha wrote at The Federalist this week. “They are more than a disincentive to expose wrongdoing; they give the upper hand to criminal enterprises, powerful corporations, avenging politicians, ideologues, and special interests to protect themselves from public condemnation and costly penalties for misconduct.”
Daleiden recently pleaded not guilty in California Superior Court to nine felony charges involving eavesdropping, falsifying documents and recording people without their consent.
Former California Attorney General Kamala Harris and current Attorney General Xavier Becerra, both Democrats who received campaign donations from Planned Parenthood, have been prosecuting Daleiden and fellow Center for Medical Progress investigator Sandra Merritt.
California law requires that both parties consent to be recorded. Becerra alleges that Daleiden and Merritt broke the law by filming their conversations with abortionists and others without their consent.
However, Brejcha said other undercover journalists and whistle-blowers have been celebrated for similar work, writing: “… about the time that Daleiden published his findings, animal rights activists were praised for documenting abuse in the poultry industry. Unlike in Daleiden’s case, Harris launched probes of the poultry industry and didn’t charge the reporters.”
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He said Daleiden used standard undercover journalist techniques in his investigation of Planned Parenthood.
Even legal scholars and news outlets that support abortion have slammed Harris and Becerra for prosecuting Daleiden and Merritt. Brejcha said law professors Sherry F. Colb and Michael C. Dorf criticized the state for pursuing criminal charges against Daleiden because the case could “cripple investigative journalism” as a whole.
“Whatever the precise facts of this case prove to be, the prosecution has broader implications, and not just for abortion and anti-abortion speech,” they wrote in an column for CNN. “Undercover exposés play a vital role in informing the American public of important facts that would otherwise remain hidden.”
The Los Angeles Times editorial board also slammed the California Attorney General’s office for threatening citizen journalists and jeopardizing the freedom of the press.
“It’s disturbingly aggressive for Becerra to apply this criminal statute to people who were trying to influence a contested issue of public policy, regardless of how sound or popular that policy may be,” the editors wrote in 2017. “… The state doesn’t need to threaten the pair with prison time.”
Lawyers with Liberty Council, a pro-life legal firm representing Merritt, said, to date, no other citizen journalist or journalism group has ever been charged with a crime for undercover recordings made in the public interest.
In November, Daleiden, Merritt and the Center for Medical Progress lost a civil case to the Planned Parenthood abortion chain. Their lawyers plan to appeal. In that case, Planned Parenthood accused them of more than a dozen crimes, including trespassing, breach of confidentiality, wiretapping and conspiracy.
Their undercover videos did a lot of damage to Planned Parenthood when they revealed the abortion giant’s baby body parts operation. Not only did the Center for Medical Progress investigation raise concerns about potentially illegal sales of human body parts, but it also uncovered evidence of abortionists allegedly putting women’s lives at risk by altering abortion procedures to better harvest aborted baby parts. The investigators also found evidence of possible patient privacy violations.
These findings prompted investigations by the U.S. House and Senate, as well as a number of states. The House and Senate investigations both recommended that the Department of Justice investigate Planned Parenthood after finding strong evidence that the abortion chain broke the law. The Department of Justice is investigating.
Planned Parenthood repeatedly has denied all allegations of wrong-doing, and many news outlets now parrot its talking points that the undercover videos were deceptively edited or debunked, even though that is not true. An independent forensics investigation verified that the videos were authentic.
Some undercover videos show how Planned Parenthood employees callously and flippantly negotiated the price of tiny baby hearts, lungs, livers and brains. Other evidence indicates the abortion giant may have broken HIPAA patient privacy laws.
The expose videos catching Planned Parenthood officials selling the body parts of aborted babies have shocked the nation. Here is a list of all 14:
- In the first video: Dr. Deborah Nucatola of Planned Parenthood commented on baby-crushing: “We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.”
- In the second video: Planned Parenthood’s Dr. Mary Gatter joked, “I want a Lamborghini” as she negotiated the best price for baby parts.
- In the third video: Holly O’Donnell, a former Stem Express employee who worked inside a Planned Parenthood clinic, detailed first-hand the unspeakable atrocities and how she fainted in horror over handling baby legs.
- In the fourth video: Planned Parenthood’s Dr. Savita Ginde stated, “We don’t want to do just a flat-fee (per baby) of like, $200. A per-item thing works a little better, just because we can see how much we can get out of it.” She also laughed while looking at a plate of fetal kidneys that were “good to go.”
- In the fifth video: Melissa Farrell of Planned Parenthood-Gulf Coast in Houston boasted of Planned Parenthood’s skill in obtaining “intact fetal cadavers” and how her “research” department “contributes so much to the bottom line of our organization here, you know we’re one of the largest affiliates, our Research Department is the largest in the United States.”
- In the sixth video: Holly O’Donnell described technicians taking fetal parts without patient consent: “There were times when they would just take what they wanted. And these mothers don’t know. And there’s no way they would know.”
- In the seventh and perhaps most disturbing video: Holly O’Donnell described the harvesting, or “procurement,” of organs from a nearly intact late-term fetus aborted at Planned Parenthood Mar Monte’s Alameda clinic in San Jose, CA. “‘You want to see something kind of cool,’” O’Donnell says her supervisor asked her. “And she just taps the heart, and it starts beating. And I’m sitting here and I’m looking at this fetus, and its heart is beating, and I don’t know what to think.”
- In the eighth video: StemExpress CEO Cate Dyer admits Planned Parenthood sells “a lot of” fully intact aborted babies.
- The ninth video: catches a Planned Parenthood medical director discussing how the abortion company sells fully intact aborted babies — including one who “just fell out” of the womb.
- The 10th video: catches the nation’s biggest abortion business selling specific body parts — including the heart, eyes and “gonads” of unborn babies. The video also shows the shocking ways in which Planned Parenthood officials admit that they are breaking federal law by selling aborted baby body parts for profit.
- Unreleased Videos: Unreleased videos from CMP show Deb Vanderhei of Planned Parenthood caught on tape talking about how Planned Parenthood abortion business affiliates may “want to increase revenue [from selling baby parts] but we can’t stop them…” Another video has a woman talking about the “financial incentives” of selling aborted baby body parts.
- The 11th video: catches a Texas Planned Parenthood abortionist planning to sell the intact heads of aborted babies for research. Amna Dermish is caught on tape describing an illegal partial-birth abortion procedure to terminate living, late-term unborn babies which she hopes will yield intact fetal heads for brain harvesting.
- The 12th video in the series shows new footage of Jennefer Russo, medical director at Planned Parenthood in Orange County, California, describing to undercover investigators how her abortion business tries to harvest intact aborted babies’ bodies for a local for-profit biotech company and changes the abortion procedure to do so.
- The 13th video: exposes a Planned Parenthood medical director admitting that babies born alive after abortion are sometimes killed.
- The 14th video: catches Planned Parenthood executives discussing gruesome abortion procedures and the sale of body parts from aborted babies for profit.