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David Daleiden-Sandra Merritt Planned Parenthood case resumes in California Supreme Court

May 19, 2019

California’s highest court has allowed the prosecution of two undercover, pro-life activists to resume, lifting its stay on the proceedings.

The California Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a petition to halt legal action against anti-abortion activists David Daleiden and Sandra Susan Merritt, according to an official of the Thomas More Society, a conservative pro-life law firm representing the defendants.

State Supreme Court Justice Tani Gore Cantil-Sakauye last month issued a stay on prosecuting Mr. Daleiden and Ms. Merritt, who face fraud charges brought by Attorney General Xavier Becerra for their undercover video recordings of Planned Parenthood workers and officials.

“This decision to deny David Daleiden’s Petition for Review means that 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,’” Peter Green, vice president of the Thomas More Society, told The Washington Times.

Mr. Daleiden, founder of the pro-life advocacy group Center for Medical Progress, and Ms. Merritt have been charged with illegally recording 14 persons at a 2014 National Abortion Federation meeting in San Francisco and restaurants. The videos purport to show those individuals discussing the sale of fetal tissue.

The California Attorney General’s Office did not respond to a request for comment.

Attorneys for Mr. Daleiden and Ms. Merritt had argued against the inclusion of Planned Parenthood, the National Abortion Federation and unnamed victims into the case, calling their intervention unprecedented and saying it would compromise “the integrity and impartiality” of the prosecution.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Christopher C. Hite had ruled in February that the outside pro-choice groups could participate in a preliminary hearing to show the harm Mr. Daleiden and Ms. Merritt are alleged to have caused them, citing a 2008 state law on victim’s rights.

The Center for Medical Progress (CMP) released in 2015 undercover videos that allegedly show Planned Parenthood employees discussing the sale of fetal tissue for profit, a charge the group denies.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit recently upheld similar CMP videos of Planned Parenthood clinics in Texas as “authentic” enough to justify the Texas Department of Health kicking the women’s health care giant off its Medicaid reimbursement rolls.

Unlike Texas, California requires that all parties must provide consent to be recorded or videotaped.

Mr. Daleiden and Ms. Merritt face more that a dozen counts of privacy invasion in California. They argue their work is protected as journalists.

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