By now, many of you have heard the two-fold bad news on the Planned Parenthood scandal. First, Planned Parenthood is suing the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) for what they allege are “manipulated” videos that made Planned Parenthood look like it had broken laws which, Planned Parenthood is claiming, it did not. There were fighting words on Planned Parenthood’s side, calling the investigation an “illegal conspiracy.” But CMP is calling this a “last-ditch move of desperation” on the part of Planned Parenthood. The battle is ramping up.
Secondly, in a completely astonishing turn, a Texas grand jury that set out to investigate Planned Parenthood flipped their target – coming out with an indictment against the pro-lifers who took the video footage – to David Daleiden, the man behind CMP, and his colleague. The District Attorney’s office also said they have ended all investigation into Planned Parenthood.
It’s important to understand what exactly is happening from a legal perspective. A district attorney’s office is full of prosecutors who represent the state government in cases going after criminals. THE district attorney is the head of all those prosecutors (and can also directly prosecute cases.) In this case, the district attorney said she respected the jury’s decision.
The charges are two-fold. David Daleiden (and his co-worker) are being charged with a felony for obtaining false identities. This charge is ridiculous and endangers the ever-important field of investigative journalism (read more in Part Two of this series). Even more preposterous is the second charge: a misdemeanor for trying to engage in a fetal tissue parts market, the exact action they were trying to expose as illegal! Even pro-choice law professors pointed this out: “The misdemeanor charge of attempting to buy fetal remains seemingly overlooks the fact that Deleiden and Merritt were only posing as buyers to expose what they believed was the illegal conduct by others.” And CMP themselves said, “note that buying fetal tissue requires a seller as well. Planned Parenthood still cannot deny the admissions from their leadership about fetal organ sales captured on video.”
It has been pointed out that the two charges cancel each other out. On the one hand, David is being accused of being too fake, not having a real company. On the other, he is being accused of really wanting to buy baby parts! He cannot be both fake and real!
Many people who have not been following this case closely may assume that these unfair accusations discredit the work of CMP. Encourage these people to watch the videos for themselves. Ask them to imagine representing either side – Planned Parenthood or David Daleiden – and see whose side they’d rather choose.1
When used correctly, the law about false identity/government record tampering can be brought against underage drinkers with fake IDs or people committing Social Security fraud – obtaining government benefits by pretending to be someone they are not. Even in many of these cases the laws aren’t enforced or the charges are lessened and not handled as a criminal offense. It seems hard to imagine placing the same kind of accusation, force, and media attention that David has been getting against every 18-year-old college boy that has a fake ID – and what he’s doing is clearly wrong! What David is doing is the epitome of righteous action – he is not receiving alcohol or government benefits like those the law is designed to stop. His only motivation in assuming an alternative identity was to hold an organization accountable. Goodness, every CEO on the show Undercover Boss has obtained an alternative identity. Are we going to prosecute them for their well-intentioned “fake” identities as well?
It is uncertain whether David will face jail time. The minimum sentence in this case is two years; the maximum is 20. There hasn’t been any movement to arrest him at this time. We know that, like Paul in Scripture, David says he will continue to “cheerfully make my defense.” The facts are on our side.
There really is no legitimate case against David. It is very rare that undercover investigators are indicted in this way. This is clearly driven by bias and not justice. Lawyers are confident that the charges will be dropped. The laws were never intended to stop private investigators and undercover journalists from doing their jobs. So we can only hope that the case is dismissed.
There is so much more to cover in the months that follow. How many other videos are there, and when will they be released? What will happen with this case? How as a pro-life movement can we step up and more clearly show there is an alternative to Planned Parenthood? What is the status of the state investigations into Planned Parenthood? We at CWA will be working to bring you information and answers on all of these questions and more. Please get involved in stopping Planned Parenthood in your state, and donate to support our work.
Read Part Two of this series “The Importance of Investigative Journalism” and Part Three: “Impugn the Court, not CMP” to see how this case hurts not just the pro-life cause but also the freedom of the press and the integrity of the court.