California prosecutors charged two anti-abortion activists for orchestrating a secret video recording of themselves attempting to purchase fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood, which they used to make false claims, reports the Chicago Tribune.
An arrest warrant filed Tuesday night against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, both California residents, alleges that the pair posed as representatives of a fictitious bioresearch company and secretly recorded conversations with 14 people without their permission, between October 2013 and July 2015.
They are charged with 15 felonies, one count for each of the 14 people recorded, and one count for criminal conspiracy to invade privacy.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra issued this statement, from Politico:
“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.”
The people recorded were representative from Planned Parenthood and StemExpress, a company that provides biological material for medical research.
Daleiden and Merritt ignited a national outcry among abortion opponents when they released the videos, which claimed that Planned Parenthood illegally harvests and sells remains of aborted fetuses.
Anti-abortionists have used the secret recordings to pressure lawmakers to cut off spending to Planned Parenthood.
But Planned Parenthood has said the videos were deceptively edited to support the false claims. Meanwhile, investigations of the organization have found no criminal activity, NPR reported.
Mary Alice Carter, interim vice president of communications for Planned Parenthood, released this statement, from The Tribune:
“As we have said from the beginning, and as more than a dozen different state investigations have made clear: Planned Parenthood has done nothing wrong, and the only people who broke the law are those behind the fraudulent tapes.”