Imagine for a moment that a courageous undercover journalist embedded herself among a group of powerful and wealthy businessmen involved in some horrific crime – sex-trafficking, for instance. Imagine the journalist had surreptitiously recorded conversations in which these powerful men openly haggled over the prices of their victims and spilled the details about how they circumvent the law.
Now, imagine that this journalist publicly released these damning recordings. And then imagine that, instead of investigating the businessmen, congressmen and law enforcement officials instead investigated the journalist – for the “crime” of secretly recording the businessmen!
The scenario is absurd, you might say. The public outrage in the face of such a gross miscarriage of justice would be swift and ferocious. After all, even if the secret recordings were technically illegal, clearly this kind of hard-hitting undercover journalism is an important exception.
However, we don’t really need to “imagine” such a supposed absurd scenario. Right now, two heroic pro-life investigators are fighting for their freedom in a Californian courtroom. Their crime? Exposing the horrific illegal practices of abortion clinics and biomedical companies who traffic in the bodies of aborted babies.
David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt are the two journalists, working for the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), who secretly recorded abortionists and other officials in the abortion industry describing how they harvest the body parts of unborn victims of abortion, and then sell them for a profit to various buyers. The pair publicly released the shocking videos in 2015.
They are now facing 15 felony counts for allegedly “illegally” taping the conversations with the abortion officials. If convicted, they face up to 10 years in prison!
The horrifying truth
I’ve watched the videos. To say they are nauseating is an understatement. One of the most haunting of them shows a medical worker digging through a petri dish filled with the crushed remains of aborted 20-week twins. At one point, the tweezers seize upon an object, and then proceed to lift the dismembered arm of a baby for the camera to see. Each of the fingers is vividly, searingly visible. This is the arm of a human being…a human being that was fully alive but minutes before, but whose mangled body is now being sorted through for intact parts that can be sold to pad the bottom line of the abortion clinic.
Then there’s the video in which the CEO of Stem Express, a tissue procurement company, described how in order to harvest “insanely fragile” brain tissue, it’s best just to ship the whole head of the fetus to researchers. “Just make sure the eyes are closed,” Daleiden (one of the pro-life investigators) remarks at this point. “Yeah,” the CEO laughs in response, “Tell the lab techs it’s coming…it’s almost like they don’t want to know what it is.”
Just about anybody with an intact conscience who saw these videos knew they were looking at something morally repugnant. In our bizarre legal system, however, the mere fact of harvesting the bodies of unborn babies who have been deliberately murdered is not, in itself, illegal. However, some of the practices that abortionists and other officials in the video explicitly admit to engaging clearly violate the law.
For instance, though it is technically legal to harvest human body parts from abortion and to provide them to biomedical companies or universities for macabre “research,” there are regulations against profiting from the sale of these body parts. Furthermore, there are regulations that forbid abortionists from altering the abortion procedure in order to obtain better or more intact “specimens.” The reason why is obvious: the abortionist could put the baby’s mother at risk if he decides to change his normal practices because he wants “better” body parts to sell.
In the videos released by Daleiden and Merritt, however, it’s clear that the abortionists and biomedical companies are very, very interested in money. In one of the most notorious of these videos, Dr. Mary Gatter, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s for-profit Medical Directors’ Council, haggles over the price of baby body parts. At one point she even jokes, bizarrely, that she “wants a Lamborghini.” In the same conversation, Gatter says she would be willing to ask their abortionist if he would be willing to alter “the protocol” they follow during abortion to procure the body parts. In other words, Gatter appeared to violate the law on both counts in a single conversation.
A politically motivated prosecution…that might backfire
Unsurprisingly, the abortion industry responded to CMP’s videos by doing everything in their power to browbeat the pro-life investigators into silence. Unfortunately for Daleiden and Merrit, the abortion industry has powerful friends in high places.
One of these is former California Attorney General Kamala Harris – now a stridently pro-abortion presidential candidate for the Democratic party – who first initiated the investigation into CMP, partially in response to the urging of four Democratic congressmen (frankly, I’m not sure she needed much urging). And another is Harris’ successor, current California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who is known as a staunch pro-abortion advocate with ties to Planned Parenthood.
According to Peter Breen, one of the lawyers defending Daleiden and Merritt, the case against CMP is the “first time in California history” that an attorney general has prosecuted anyone under California’s law banning illegal taping. As Breen observed, this is bizarre. “We as a society made a value judgement, we as a society value undercover journalism,” he said. And (it should come as no surprise), “Undercover journalism requires surreptitious taping.” But in the quest to protect legal child-killing, it appears just about any stick is good enough to beat pro-lifers with.
Daleiden was also previously hit with a nearly $200,000 fine after a California judge concluded that Daleiden and his lawyers had violated a gag order he had placed on CMP’s videos.
It’s possible, however, that the abortion industry’s strategy of suing and investigating CMP into oblivion will backfire. As Daleiden pointed out late last month, before the current hearing began, if Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit against CMP proceeded, many of the abortionists and abortion officials featured in their videos would have to take the stand and testify under oath about their nefarious activities. Which is precisely what CMP wanted in the first place.
That, in fact, is currently happening. The first week of the preliminary hearing into Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit wrapped up last week, and the case will be ongoing this week. Several key witnesses have already taken the stand and described some the macabre business of harvesting fetal body parts. And while the pro-abortion attorney general requested a gag order that would seriously impede media reporting on the case, the judge overseeing the preliminary hearing last week rejected that request.
Perhaps the most chilling testimony of all, so far, came from Daleiden himself, who last described on the stand how he was motivated to investigate fetal tissue procurement after seeing a 2012 documentary in which a whistleblower who worked in Planned Parenthood clinics described receiving the intact bodies of aborted babies, and “cutting open the chest and seeing the heart was still beating.” Daleiden then explained that Stem Express itself provided researchers at Stanford University with fetal hearts. According to Daleiden, the methods used by those researchers would have required that they receive living human hearts.
The CEO of Stem Express herself admitted in court last week that her company provided fetal hearts and heads, and that in some cases the heads would be attached to the bodies of the baby, or could “be torn away.” As Daleiden’s lawyers pointed out, this raises questions about how Stem Express is obtaining intact bodies of babies, and whether the babies may well have been alive at the time they were born or were victims of illegal partial-birth abortions.
Pray for Daleiden, Merritt and their lawyers
At this point in the preliminary hearing, Daleiden and Merritt’s lawyers feel confident that they are winning. They are arguing that the laws against illegal taping do not cover cases when the conversations being taped can reasonably be expected to be overheard. This would include many of the conversations in CMP’s videos, which were recorded in public restaurants and at trade shows with numerous people milling about in the vicinity. The lawyers are also arguing that the law doesn’t apply to instances when those doing the recording reasonably believe that they are investigating a violent crime – which, clearly, Daleiden and Merritt were doing.
However, as anyone who has worked in the pro-life movement knows, legal proceedings involving the issue of abortion often go in unexpected directions. Lawyers who defend pro-life advocates often must prepare themselves for things that they have never experienced in their entire legal career: e.g.seemingly slam-dunk, routine preliminary motions arbitrarily denied, or judges tortuously interpreting the law in novel ways to arrive at decisions that go against the pro-lifers.
Daleiden and Merritt are courageous pro-life witnesses, who have done immeasurable good for our unborn brothers and sisters. Thanks to their efforts, the sheer, horrific barbarity of abortion has been exposed for countless millions of people to see. Right now, they are fighting for their freedom. They need our support in any way we can give it to them. And they and their lawyers need our prayers – for wisdom, and spiritual protection. I hope you will join me in praying for them throughout this court case.