California prosecutors charged two anti-abortion activists with 15 felony counts on Tuesday for invasions of privacy associated with the Center for Medical Progress’ deceptively edited Planned Parenthood videos.
The Center for Medical Progress published the videos online in 2015, triggering a wave of controversy, threats, and attacks — both political and physical — on Planned Parenthood. David Daleiden, one of the two activists being prosecuted, said that the videos show Planned Parenthood conspiring to sell “aborted baby parts” for profit.
Planned Parenthood does not sell aborted fetal tissue. It donates fetal tissue to medical researchers and, formerly, was legally reimbursed for associated costs. The women’s health clinic discontinued the reimbursement practice after the videos and the surrounding controversy.
After the videos were released, dozens of states opened investigations, as did anti-abortion lawmakers in congress. No investigation into Planned Parenthood has found any evidence of wrongdoing — and, in Texas, a grand jury convened to investigate Planned Parenthood indicted Daleiden and his conspirator Sandra Merritt instead.
The Texas charges — for tampering with government records— were later dismissed on a legal technicality.
But now, in California the pair have been indicted again, this time on 14 counts of unlawfully recording people without permission and one count of conspiracy to invade privacy. The Center for Medical Progress is based in Irvine, California, and the recordings occurred in Los Angeles, Pasadena, San Francisco and El Dorado.
State Attorney General Xavier Becerra said that his office “will not tolerate the criminal recording of confidential conversations.”
“The right to privacy is a cornerstone of California’s Constitution, and a right that is foundational in a free democratic society,” Becerra said.
Daleiden released a statement through the Center for Medical Progress, alleging that the charges were the result of Planned Parenthood’s “collusion with corrupt officials.”
“The bogus charges from Planned Parenthood’s political cronies are fake news,” the statement reads. It also touts “yet-unreleased” videos the group plans to drop.