Law & the Courts

California’s Moral Atrocity

Xavier Becerra on Capitol Hill in 2013 (Reuters photo: Jonathan Ernst)
The state’s attorney general is going after, not people who confessed on camera to murders, but the investigative reporters who uncovered the crimes.

In a parade of horrors exposed by the Center for Medical Progress, one episode stands out. In the seventh video released by undercover journalists David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, former StemExpress technician Holly O’Donnell describes an experience at Planned Parenthood Mar Monte’s Alameda Clinic in San Jose, Calif.:

“I want you to see something kinda cool. This is kinda neat,” [says O’Donnell’s coworker]. So I’m over here, and . . . the moment I see it, I’m just flabbergasted. This is the most gestated fetus and the closest thing to a baby I’ve seen. And she is, like, “Okay, I want to show you something.” So she has one of her instruments, and she just taps the heart, and it starts beating. And I’m sitting here, and I’m looking at this fetus, and its heart is beating, and I don’t know what to think.

O’Donnell is then told to “harvest” the child’s brain: “[She] gave me the scissors and told me that I had to cut down the middle of the face.” O’Donnell did as asked.

It’s not often that someone confesses to murder on camera, but that is what O’Donnell did, assuming her account was accurate. The California Penal Code defines murder as the “unlawful killing of a human being, or a fetus, with malice aforethought.” Not only did Planned Parenthood refuse to render care to a born-alive infant, as required by California law; it acted affirmatively to cause the child’s death.

Yet this revelation occasioned no interest. Major newspapers ignored it. Mainstream websites overlooked it. Nothing appeared on the nightly news. These were, apparently, not the crimes anyone was looking for.

Now, California attorney general Xavier Becerra has filed 15 felony charges against Daleiden and Merritt, the journalists who exposed the brutality and profiteering of Planned Parenthood and its affiliates, on the grounds that ostensibly business-related conversations among strangers held in restaurants and at conferences were in fact “confidential,” and so recording them without every participant’s consent violated California eavesdropping laws. You can read all about this news at the New York Times, the Washington Post, and CNN.

Becerra, a Democrat, recently decamped from the U.S. House to replace Kamala Harris, now California’s junior senator, as state attorney general. (Last spring, Harris’s investigators raided Daleiden’s apartment, seizing a laptop and multiple hard drives.) Both have 100 percent legislative ratings from prominent pro-abortion groups. Both have received financial support from Planned Parenthood. At the time she ordered the raid, Harris was helping Planned Parenthood’s chief legal counsel draft legislation to restrict reporting on “health-care providers.”

RELATED: California Shamelessly Persecutes Pro-Life Journalists

There is much that ought to be said about California’s transparently partisan abuse of the state’s prosecutorial power. (In recent years, undercover videos have prompted California’s Justice Department to investigate claims of animal cruelty on chicken farms. This, as opposed to homicide at abortion clinics, is enough to prompt the curiosity of California’s law-enforcement officials.) There is much, too, that ought to be said about the hypocrisy of the media types who are suddenly silent about this unconcealed assault on reporters’ freedoms, after spending the days since Donald Trump’s election propounding the importance of a vigorous press. (“Like firefighters who run into a fire, journalists run toward a story,” MSNBC’s Katy Tur boasted last month.)

But what links media hypocrisy with partisan hypocrisy, and what is at the heart of this shameful affair, is conscience twisted beyond recognition. The Center for Medical Progress revealed Planned Parenthood’s trade in fetal parts and its winking attitude toward the law. But it also revealed the sheer moral rot that consumes the abortion industry from top to bottom. Hidden from everyday view are those who, over appetizers and wine, talk about “crushing” babies to death, or joke about how an abortionist worth her salt will “hit the gym” because it requires “biceps” to dismember a baby! And there are others, such as Becerra and Harris, who may not handle the scissors, but who agree that snuffing out the life of a child on a table should be celebrated, and that those who would expose those activities should be locked up. This is the barbarism of “progressive” consensus.

On Wednesday morning, undeterred by the California Department of Justice, the Center for Medical Progress released a new video, in which an undercover Daleiden discusses abortion procedures with Dr. DeShawn Taylor, former medical director of Planned Parenthood Arizona, and the founder of her own abortion clinic in Phoenix. Taylor notes: “In Arizona, if the fetus comes out with any signs of life, we’re supposed to transport it. To the hospital.” Asked if there is any standard procedure for “verifying life,” she replies: “Well, the thing is, I mean the key is, you need to pay attention to who’s in the room, right?”

There is a famous line in Solzhenitsyn: “Let the lie come into the world, let it even triumph. But not through me.” The lie has come into the world, but not through David Daleiden.

Ian Tuttle — Ian Tuttle is the former Thomas L. Rhodes Journalism Fellow at the National Review Institute.

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