14 charges dropped in undercover pro-life activist case
By Marvin Schrebe
Fourteen felony charges that were filed in a California case against undercover pro-life activists who exposed Planned Parenthood’s practice of selling fetal body parts to bio-tech firms and other practices have been dropped. The San Francisco Superior Court threw out 14 of the 15 charges against against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt of the Center for Medical Progress on Wednesday. The court ruled the charges “legally insufficient”.
Those 14 charges were charges related to 14 different Planned Parenthood officials and abortion advocates the defendants were said to have illegally recorded during their undercover operations with them. The conversations often included descriptions of abortion procedures and the methods used by doctors to harvest body parts like livers and brains as well as talk of the money that could be made by their sale. The defendants are still charged with one count of conspiracy to invade privacy.
Many pro-life advocates saw the filing of the charges by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra as an attempt to cover up the shady dealings of Planned Parenthood. His decision to prosecute was eveen criticized by the Los Angeles Times, a liberal newspaper, which said his actions were “disturbingly aggressive” and “misplaced”.
The San Francisco court made provisions for the prosecution to refile the charges by dismissing them with “leave to amend” if Becerra should wish to refile them. Judge Christopher Hite allowed the Attorney General one month to refile the charges. According to the Center for Medical Progress the judge also denied Becerra’s request for sanctions of contempt against Daleiden’s defense team and agreed with a federal judge in an accompanying civil suit that a gag order should not prevent them from using video in their defense.
The undercover videos were filmed over a two year period and have often been described as “deceptively edited” by pro-abortion advocates. In April of 2016 Daleiden’s apartment was searched and his laptop and hard drives confiscated to obtain the secret videos, some of which were unreleased under Becerra’s predecessor Kamala Harris. Harris now represents California in the US Senate and has received thousands in Planned Parenthood donations. Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel who represents Merrit told Life News that the dismissal of so many charges this week is a “huge victory”.
“We will now turn our attention to dismissing the final count,” he said. “Sandra Merritt did nothing wrong. The complaint by the California Attorney General is unprecedented and frankly will threaten every journalist who provides valuable information to the public. This final count will also fall.”
The criminal charges in California were similar to charges filed against investigative reporters in Houston Texas but last July those were also dismissed.
Photo: In this April 29, 2016, file photo, David Robert Daleiden, right, with attorney Jared Woodfill leave a courtroom after a hearing in Houston. (AP Photo/Pat Sullivan, File)