David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt of the misleadingly named “Center for Medical Progress” mounted an attack on Planned Parenthood. The two created a heavily edited, seriously misleading video suggesting that Planned Parenthood traffics in medical materials from aborted fetuses. The videos were recorded secretly, without the consent of the other participants. David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt pretended to be with a company that didn’t exist. And the editing grossly distorted the actual conversations. The videos are, in every meaningful sense, lies.
The lies were seized upon by anti-abortionists as “proof” of Planned Parenthood’s wicked ways. Politicians who court the votes of the anti-abortionists used the lies to attack Planned Parenthood, not because they believed the lies, but because the mostly white males can’t stand the tought of women owning and controlling their own bodies.
There were investigations, of course. In Texas, in January 2016, a grand jury looked in to the lies with the aim of indicting Planned Parenthood. But, from the politicians’ point of view, the investigation went off the rails when the Texas grand jury refused to indict Planned Parenthood but did indict David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt. The charges were dismissed by embarrassed Texas prosecutors because the grand jury has “exceeded its authority.” The grand jury, it seemed, had pursued justice, rather than a political agenda.
California State Attorney General Xavier Becerra believes in the rule of law, not political agendas. She announced an indictment for 15 felonies against Dalieden and Merritt. She said in a statement that the state “will not tolerate the criminal recording of conversations.” It’s undisputed that Daleiden, of Davis, California, and Merritt, of San Jose, filmed 14 people without permission between October 2013 and July 2015 in Los Angeles, San Francisco and El Dorado counties. One felony count was filed for each person secretly recorded. The 15th count was for criminal conspiracy to invade privacy.
The charges and the criminal cases against these two will doubtlessly provoke another firestorm from the folks who think the ends always justify the means. But it’s worth it; the rule of law matters and while the First Amendment protects free speech, it doesn’t protect folks from the consequences of lying. The justice system is slow calling these two to the dock, but absent an unusual instance of jury nullification, the Dalieden and Merritt are going to go down for their crimes. Maybe that will make them martyrs in the eyes of their supporters. But it will also make them convicted felons in the eyes of the WC.