A press release from the Thomas More Society last Friday confirmed that the prosecution of David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt – a pair of journalists who published videos showcasing alleged body part selling by Planned Parenthood – will move forward. A stay had been previously granted, halting criminal prosecution, but has since been overridden.
In March 2017, Daleiden and Merritt were charged with 15 felony counts for their undercover work focused on Planned Parenthood. Last month, a stay was granted by the California Supreme Court based on “political bias and selective prosecution,” according to a report by the Daily Wire.
Many considered the charges a threat to journalists. The Los Angeles Times labeled the move “a disturbing overreach” back when the charges were announced in March 2017.
“This decision to deny David Daleiden’s Petition for Review means that [California Attorney General] Xavier Becerra, as Planned Parenthood’s prosecutor-in-chief, will be able to continue his unconstitutional harassment of David, bringing charges against him that don’t pass the ‘red face test,’” said Peter Breen, the Thomas More Society vice president and senior counsel who is also part of Daleiden’s legal team regarding the decision.
Liberty Counsel, the organization that is representing Merritt, also blasted the decision, calling it “selective and discriminatory.”
“Sandra Merritt did not violate any law, and we confidently continue to present the evidence that demonstrates California’s first-ever prosecution of an undercover journalist is selective and discriminatory,” said Liberty Counsel’s founder and chairman Mat Staver.
The pair of journalists made headlines after releasing videos showing what appeared to be Planned Parenthood executives negotiating prices for the sale of body parts. Planned Parenthood claims that the discussions were focused on reimbursements for the cost of preparing and transferring body parts.
“Daleiden, along with co-conspirator Sandra Merritt, used manufactured identities and a fictitious bioresearch company to meet women’s healthcare providers and covertly record the private discussions they initiated,” Becerra reportedly said regarding the case.
“The right to privacy is a cornerstone of California’s Constitution, and a right that is foundational in a free democratic society… We will not tolerate the criminal recording of confidential conversations,” he continued.
After the charges were initially handed down, Daleiden stated, “The public knows the real criminals are Planned Parenthood and their business partners like StemExpress and DV Biologics — currently being prosecuted in California — who have harvested and sold aborted baby body parts for profit for years in direct violation of state and federal law.”
A federal appellate court also determined that the videos released were not “deceptively edited,” as some had alleged.
A preliminary hearing is said to be on the horizon. During the hearing, Becerra will present evidence in an attempt to convince the judge that the pair should stand trial for the 15 felony charges.