A San Francisco jury handed down a chilling verdict on Friday, finding David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt of the Center for Medical Progress criminally liable in the amount of $2.2 million for charges relating to an undercover expose of Planned Parenthood. The verdict slapped the anti-abortion activists with charges of conspiracy to commit fraud, breach of contract, trespass, and the violation of recording laws in several states. Planned Parenthood itself will be entitled to $870,000 in punitive damages.
“The jury has spoken loud and clear,” said an attorney for Planned Parenthood. “Those who violate the law in an effort to limit access to reproductive rights and health care will be held accountable.”
For those who may have forgotten what this is all about: The CMP released a series of videos in 2015 that shocked the country, tilted the tone of the presidential election, and initiated a federal investigation into Planned Parenthood’s practices. How did the videos do all of that? Were they filled with stolen documents? Propaganda? Lies? Well, no. They were undercover recordings of actual Planned Parenthood employees patiently explaining how their organization was involved in the illegal sale of fetal tissue. That’s it! That’s what made the videos so powerful; these were employees of an abortion organization describing, in detail, the horrifying actions of Planned Parenthood.
That, apparently, is all you need if you want to “limit access to reproductive rights and health care.” The testimony of employees who don’t know they’re being filmed.
How Planned Parenthood is still allowed to exist is beyond us. How this jury decided that Planned Parenthood was the wronged party in all of this is a question that haunts the soul.
“This lawsuit is payback for David Daleiden exposing Planned Parenthood’s dirty business of buying and selling fetal parts and organs,” said Thomas More Society defense attorney Peter Breen. “We intend to seek vindication for David on appeal. His investigation into criminal activity by America’s largest abortion provider utilized standard investigative journalism techniques, those applied regularly by news outlets across the country.
“David’s findings revealed practices so abhorrent that the United States Congress issued criminal referrals for Planned Parenthood, and numerous states and elected officials have moved to strip it of funding,” he continued. “Rather than face up to its heinous doings, Planned Parenthood chose to persecute the person who exposed it. I am fully confident that when this case has run its course, justice will prevail, and David will be vindicated.”
Let’s hope his confidence is not misplaced. This verdict isn’t just a slap in the face of pro-life Americans, it is a dangerous strike against the First Amendment. Whether or not they appreciate seeing Planned Parenthood exposed like this, journalists across this country should be outraged and afraid.
But apparently they’re too busy worrying about Trump’s latest tweets to concern themselves with a real threat to their rights.