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Law & the Courts

Judge Allows Criminal Trial to Proceed against Pro-Life Investigators

(Carlos Jasso/Reuters)

A San Francisco judge ruled Friday that the criminal trial may move forward against the pro-life investigators who went undercover to record abortion industry executives talking about procuring fetal body parts.

Judge Christopher Hite deemed the evidence sufficient to send to trial the case against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt of the Center for Medical Progress, who are charged with nine felony counts, one count of conspiracy and eight counts of illegal taping. Six additional counts were dropped.

Daleiden, 30, and Merritt, 64, several years ago surreptitiously recorded executives from Planned Parenthood and other organizations haggling about compensation for the procurement of fetal parts for researchers who request them.

The Thomas More Society, representing the two pro-life investigators, announced the decision on Friday in a tweet.

Lila Rose, president of the pro-life group Live Action, called the charges against the investigators “unfounded and outrageous” in a statement on Friday’s decision, saying they “have nothing to do with violating privacy or video recording laws but everything to do with protecting the powerful and wealthy abortion industry.”

“The same year David and Sandra published their recordings of Planned Parenthood employees haggling over the price of aborted baby body parts, videos taken by undercover animal rights activists were praised and led to investigations of abuse in the poultry industry,” Rose said.

Last month, the jury in the separate civil case against Daleiden and Merritt handed Planned Parenthood a win under federal racketeering statutes, awarding the abortion giant over $2.2 million.

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