One of the two undercover investigators who famously exposed Planned Parenthood’s trade in the body parts of unborn babies has filed a motion to permanently dismiss 14 of the 15 felony charges the state of California brought against her.
Facing 11 years in prison, Sandra Merritt, defended by the non-profit Liberty Counsel, filed a motion to dismiss late Monday with the San Francisco Superior Court, arguing Attorney General Xavier Becerra failed to timely file an amended complaint by the 10-day deadline regarding the 14 dismissed counts.
The same charges have been filed against the leader of the investigation, David Dalieden, founder of the Center for Medical Progress, whose case is being defended separately.
Becerra, who has received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Planned Parenthood, charges that Merritt and Daleiden videoed 14 people without permission in violation of California’s eavesdropping law between October 2013 and July 2015 in Los Angeles, San Francisco and El Dorado County.
The law bans non-consensual surreptitious recordings of “private, confidential” conversations.
One felony count was filed for each person who appeared in the videos. The 15th charge was for “criminal conspiracy” to invade “privacy.”
However, the Liberty Counsel argued the videos exposed unethical and potentially illegal conduct, and Planned Parenthood itself has admitted under oath that the recorded conversations took place in “non-confidential” and public venues.
In the motion, Merritt also asks that her cash bail of $75,000 be returned.
Liberty Counsel explained that the court previously agreed that California’s criminal complaint against Merritt was legally defective and dismissed 14 of the 15 counts. Becerra was granted time to correct the defects and re-file the charges, but he failed to meet the deadline.
That means, Liberty Counsel argues, the first 14 counts should be dismissed with prejudice, meaning they cannot be filed again.
Meanwhile, the National Abortion Federation has filed suit regarding undercover videos taken at an NAF convention where Planned Parenthood executives were discussing the fetal-tissue trade. In the case, Daleiden has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to remove a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals injunction barring him from releasing the videos. A Houston grand jury also indicted Daleiden and Merritt, but the indictments were thrown out, the district attorney was voted out of office and the assistant district attorney was fired.
The video investigation has led to efforts in Congress to stop the $500 million Planned Parenthood annually receives from taxpayers. President Trump and some Republicans lawmakers have asserted the money would be better spent on community health centers that provide a full range of health services. A House panel, headed by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., issued a report on CMP’s investigation. Along with a Senate panel, it recommends prosecutors investigate Planned Parenthood’s involvement with the trade of fetal parts.
Targeting the messengers
Liberty Counsel has charged that the case against Merritt is politically motivated, arguing that rather than “investigating and prosecuting Planned Parenthood, which donated thousands of dollars to his political campaigns,” Becerra has gone after the messengers.
“To date, no other citizen journalist or journalism organization has ever been charged with a crime for undercover recording,” Liberty Counsel noted.
Staver, as WND reported, previously charged the attorney general is “in the back pocket of Planned Parenthood.”
He pointed out that when pro-abortion California Gov. Jerry Brown named Becerra as attorney general, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards praised the appointment.
“Rep. Becerra is a long-time champion for women’s reproductive rights and health,” she said. “As a former California deputy attorney general, he understands the importance of a woman’s right to access the full range of health care, including safe, legal abortion. At a time when reproductive health is gravely under attack in states across the country, we need leaders like Rep. Becerra to be responsible stewards of the law and protect the rights of millions of Americans, including the 850,000 California women, men and families that Planned Parenthood serves every year.”
Liberty Counsel said the Center for Responsive Politics shows Becerra received $1,000 in 2014, $2,000 in 2012, $500 in 2004, $1,000 in 2002 and $1,035 in 1998 in congressional campaign contributions from Planned Parenthood.
Staver charged at the time that there is “obvious political motivation behind the recent baseless criminal charges” against Merritt and Daleiden.
“Our client did not break any laws. With all the investigative media and reality TV shows that use investigative journalism in California, there has been no effort by the state to prosecute and for good reason, because the First Amendment has something to say about this,” he said. “The attorney general has engaged in selective prosecution to target pro-life speech. When law enforcement selectively targets people, everyone should be concerned. This effort will fail.”
When California announced it was filing 15 felony counts against the two pro-life activists, WND reported the pro-lifers responded by releasing yet another video. In the latest, a former employee of Planned Parenthood explained how she tried to make sure babies were dismembered before removal because of the visual impact of the dead victim.
“It’s not a matter of how I felt about [the unborn infant] coming out intact, but I’ve got to worry about my staff, and you know, people’s feelings about it, coming out looking like a baby,” said DeShawn Taylor, a former medical operator for Planned Parenthood Arizona who now runs her own abortion business.
One of the CMP videos showed an official admitting Planned Parenthood sells fully intact aborted babies.
Another has Deborah Nucatola of Planned Parenthood commented on crushing babies.
“We’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m gonna basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact,” she said.
In another video, Planned Parenthood’s Mary Gatter discussed how her compensation for organs could rise when she said, “I want a Lamborghini.”
The fifth video released shows Melissa Farrell of Planned Parenthood’s Houston clinic discussing “intact fetal cadavers”:
The seventh video has the testimony of a Planned Parenthood worker who tapped an aborted infant’s heart and saw it start beating.