March 29 (UPI) -- Two anti-abortion activists were charged with 15 felonies for secretly videotaping themselves trying to buy fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood representatives.
David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt were charged Tuesday with unlawfully recording 14 people without permission at locations in California – a "two-party consent" state in which both people must give their consent to have their conversation recorded – and one count of conspiracy to invade privacy. A warrant was issued for their arrest.
Using fake names and a false business name, Daleiden and Merritt gained entry to the 2014 National Abortion Federation Convention in San Francisco and secretly recorded conversations. Daleiden and Merritt also recorded a lunch meeting with Dr. Deborah Nucatola, the senior director of medical services at the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, who, between sips of wine, can be seen and heard on the video talking about selling the organs of aborted fetuses for between $30 and $100 each. The edited videos were posted online, angering abortion opponents.
Planned Parenthood insisted it did not profit from sale of fetal tissue and filed a suit in January against the Center for Medical Progress, the name of Daleiden's sham business, alleging the defendants lied to gain entry to meetings. A grand jury cleared Planned Parenthood and instead indicted Daleiden and Merritt on felony charges of tampering with government records. The charges were dismissed in July.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a former Democratic member of Congress, said in a statement that the undercover videos showed that Delaeiden and Merritt attempted to purchase fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood.
"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," Becerra said.