California prosecutors are charging two anti-abortion activists, who covertly filmed an encounter with Planned Parenthood in which they tried to buy fetal tissue from the medical providers, with felonies, the Associated Press reported.
The video, filmed by David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, was recorded without consent from the medical providers and researchers who are captured on that tape—something which is illegal in California. They were charged with 15 felonies—14 for the 14 people recorded without their permission, and one for conspiracy to invade privacy.
"The public knows the real criminals are Planned Parenthood and their business partners," Daleiden said in an email to the Associated Press, arguing that the charges come from “Planned Parenthood’s political cronies.”
The video from this encounter turned Planned Parenthood into a much-debated campaign issue during the Republican presidential primaries, with candidate Carly Fiorina once infamously alleging that the video showed a fetus moving on a table while someone said: “We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.” The video shows no such thing, though it does include a separate clip of what appears to be a miscarriage but which is presented as an abortion.
What the video actually shows is Planned Parenthood discussing fetal tissue with StemExpress, a biomedical company. Deleiden poses as “Robert Sarkis,” an employee of the fake Biomax Procurement Services.
Planned Parenthood and abortion rights proponents said that the video shows a legal, though sometimes frank, discussion of fetal tissue donation, and that the tapes are edited deceptively. Daleiden and Merritt claim that Planned Parenthood is selling fetal tissue for profit.
"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," said Mary Alice Carter, interim vice president of communications for Planned Parenthood, in a statement.
In one of those cases, a Texas grand jury was convened to investigate Planned Parenthood, but after finding nothing illegal about their operations, indicted Daleiden and Merritt instead. Those charges were later dropped after prosecutors found the jury overstepped its bounds.
[Image of David Daleiden (R) and his attorney: Getty]