Court dismisses most charges against woman who helped expose Planned Parenthood

On February 16, 2019

World News…with

Biblical Commentary

Sandra Merritt, the undercover journalist who helped the Center for Medical Progress to expose Planned Parenthood’s illegal sales of the body parts of aborted babies, has had 14 of the 15 charges filed against her dismissed by a California court. Merritt, along with her fellow investigator David Daleiden, spent years undercover, meeting with abortion executives and attending conferences before releasing what they had discovered: videos of Planned Parenthood officials across the country casually discussing sales and profits from selling the body parts of babies they aborted.

READ: Center for Medical Progress submits evidence Planned Parenthood may have lied to Congress

While there was enormous backlash across much of the country, with numerous state and congressional investigations opened to look into these potentially illegal activities, California went the opposite direction. The state’s Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, instead filed 15 felony charges against both Merritt and Daleiden, accusing them of using “manufactured identities and a fictitious bioresearch company to meet women’s healthcare providers and covertly record the private discussions they initiated” in the statement he released along with the charges. “The right to privacy is a cornerstone of California’s Constitution, and a right that is foundational in a free democratic society,” Becerra said. “We will not tolerate the criminal recording of confidential conversations.”

 

A San Francisco circuit court dismissed 14 of the 15 charges Wednesday, but Merritt is still charged with one count of conspiracy to invade privacy. Planned Parenthood is also requesting to join the state’s prosecution, which could be considered a conflict of interest. Becerra is an ardent supporter of abortion, who refused to investigate Planned Parenthood after the videos were released and chose instead to go after Daleiden and Merritt.

Undercover journalism has also historically been protected in California — that is, when the target does not involve abortion. This case has drawn great interest outside of pro-life circles also, as the U.S. Reporters Committee also filed a “friend of the court” submission siding with Daleiden and Merritt, calling the charges against them an attack on free speech. Going undercover is something journalists commonly do during investigations, and the precedent these charges set is troubling for them as well.

Merritt is being represented by Liberty Counsel, who cheered the court’s decision as a victory. “We will now turn our attention to dismissing the final count,” Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, said in a statement. “Sandra Merritt did nothing wrong. The complaint by the California attorney general is unprecedented and frankly will threaten every journalist who provides valuable information to the public.”

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Author: Cassy Fiano-Chesser

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