Journalists David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt are accused of violating the privacy of the fourteen “abortion rights workers” who appear in their videos published in 2015 (see American Family Planning: Partial birth abortions, lifting of veils on trafficking in foetal organs). These videos, the result of three years of undercover investigation, caused an unprecedented scandal by purportedly showing how Planned Parenthoodagreed to sell foetal tissue for profit.
The release of these videos has led to criminal investigations in some fifteen US states. Accused in Texas in 2017 of using false identities to attend Planned Parenthood meetings, the two journalists pleaded not guilty, claiming that they were “citizen journalists whose activities are protected under the Constitution”. They were released.
In the same year, California Attorney General Xavier Beccera prosecuted them on fourteen counts of invasion of privacy. The federal judge presiding over the Planned Parenthood versus Center for Medical Progress case immediately banned the circulation of the videos. Planned Parenthood has asked to join the criminal proceedings against the two journalists, albeit “an unusual legal request”, in order to ensure the “safety of its workers who must testify”.
The judge is scheduled to consider the case on Monday alongside the issue of “pressure from prosecutors to keep the names of the fourteen female abortion rights workers in the 2015 videos confidential”. Merritt’s lawyer, Horacio Mihet, and Daleiden’s lawyer, Brentford Ferreira, argued against the non-disclosure of names.