Pro-Life Message Underfire and Still Impactful!

Just two years ago today, the first of 14 undercover videos released by the Center for Medical Progress took the media by storm and awoke the public to a gruesome activity going on within Planned Parenthood, Stem Cell Express, and other groups profiting from harvesting of baby parts. 

July 14, 2015, Houstonians, along with the entire nation and the world, watched as Deborah Nucatola, Senior Director of Medical Services for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, heartlessly described how baby bodies were strategically crushed during a late term abortion in order to avoid damaging organs that had been requested by research companies.  Over a salad and glass of wine, she callously described turning the baby to a breech position to achieve an abortion that delivered more intact body parts - in a manner that sounded much like the illegal partial birth abortion.

The following day, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton officially announced an investigation into Planned Parenthood.

In a very short time, July 31, 2015, Judge Orrick, III, granted an injunction preventing the release of specific footage as requested by the National Abortion Federation. The abortion industry did not know how extensive the videos would be and who all would be affected.

Over the following months, 11 more videos were legally released and sent shock waves that reverberated into the political halls and brought about investigations  

After collecting years of undercover footage, David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt and the staff of Center for Medical Progress were able to pull back the curtain in a profound way. Each release, both in the full footage and the shortened clips, show how the heart, the liver, the brain and other parts of aborted babies are obtained and priced so that it would be “financially beneficial” - profitable - for participation in the research.   According to Center for Medical Progress “Federal law at 42 U.S.C.289g-2 strictly prohibits the purchase and sale of aborted fetal tissue.”

The visual media powerfully stands on its own much like a witness repeating back so much more than just the abortion promotors self-condemning words.  Other than seeing the torn baby parts in the dish, perhaps the most gruesome of these videos included an interview with O’Donnell, formerly with StemExpress, who upon being instructed, harvested the brain of an aborted child by cutting through the face of a child just moments after the heart had been tapped causing it to begin beating again.  Just as media would begin to stop talking about one video, another would become breaking news opening the blinders of so many people.

Also another person, in no way tied to the Center for Medical Progress, obtained and released 11 of these sealed videos saying that he was not legally under the court order.

Here in Houston, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast’s Center for Choice was not overlooked by the undercover activists nor the by the Texas Attorney General’s office. The fifth video, released on Aug 4, 2015, highlighted Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast’s Medical Director, Melissa Farrell as she described the ability of abortionists to (illegally) alter the abortion procedure to obtain “more intact fetal cadavers.”

By January of 2016, members of the Harris County political arena attempted to bury the scandal of the largest abortion facility in the Western Hemisphere.  A Harris County Criminal Grand Jury was believed to be investigating if there was enough material to have a case against Planned Parenthood; they surprised everyone by indicting the two undercover whistleblowers: Daleiden and Merritt.  The two undercover investigative journalists were indicted with a felony for the creation and use of a fake ID and a misdemeanor of attempting to buy human body parts.  Josh Schaffer, the attorney representing Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, bragged that Planned Parenthood had not even been questioned.

It’s hard to avoid seeing the political game involved. The supposedly pro-life DA Devon Anderson had appointed Sunni Mitchell, an Assistant DA, to screen and present materials for the grand jury to “objectively review.” (This same Assistant DA is believed to have helped keep a different abortion provider from being indicted even though there were pictures and eye-witness accounts against him back in 2013.)  Both Mitchell and Anderson showed signs of colluding with Planned Parenthood, based on timing and the improper skirting of the law regarding the release of information during a criminal investigation. Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society, who has been representing David Daleiden told reporters “This meritless and retaliatory prosecution should never have been brought. Planned Parenthood did wrong here, not David Daleiden.”

On Feb 3, 2016, Houston Coalition for Life and our volunteers came to the Harris County Court House to show support for Sandra! The following day, Houston Coalition for Life and many other local and national prolife organizations rallied with Daleiden who came to Harris County to fulfill his legal requirements as well.  

By July 26th, both of the charges had been dismissed.  Judge Diane Bull dismissed the misdemeanor charge explaining that the whistleblowers clearly did not intend to buy aborted baby body parts. Judge Brock Thomas dismissed the felony charge!  Some reports indicate that Devon Anderson, under advisement, took the opportunity to drop the charges. The evening of this fantastic news, Houston Coalition for Life with the St. Thomas More Society was able to bring together a variety of pro-life leaders representing a dozen pro-life organizations in Houston!  We celebrated what Daleiden announced as he first exited the courthouse: “Today is a victory for First Amendment Rights and citizen journalists!” 

Sadly, the legal battles then raging in California were not over yet.  While the lawyers representing Daleiden and Merritt were still fighting 15 felony counts in California, the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives led by Representative Marsha Blackburn concluded after a 15-month investigation.

On Dec 1, 2016, US Rep. Blackburn and the Select Investigative Panel, following the structure of the country’s laws, officially asked Texas Attorney General Paxton to prosecute Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast.

In June of 2017, of the 15 felony charges against Daleiden and Merritt, State Judge Hite dismissed all but one; yet he allowed for more evidence against CMP to be presented. Judge Hite also allowed for the videos under the US District Orrick’s gag order to be used in CMP’s defense.  Daleiden’s attorneys posted material based on the videos becoming part of the public record since it was used in the San Francisco Superior Court.  With this release, Judge Orrick has found Daleiden’s defense attorney’s in contempt of court. This is incredibly confusing since Judge Orrick, though a federal judge, was not overseeing the case that Hon. Hite was hearing.  Also, more material has been filed with the San Francisco Superior Court against CMP by California Attorney General Becerra, who received political contributions for his campaign from Planned Parenthood and NARAL.  At this time, Daleiden’s attorneys continue to seek to have Judge Orrick removed from his position to rule on the Federal Cases against CMP since he is listed as an emeritus member of the board of the National Abortion Federation and was a secretary of a Good Samaritan Family Resource Center that had ties to Planned Parenthood.

As Planned Parenthood even still attempts to dissuade the public, that these videos are false or maliciously edited, both Fusion and Coalfire professionally investigated and approved the authenticity and the subsequent legitimacy of the videos.

Who would have guessed two years ago, with this first stunning video, how the Center for Medical Progress and Planned Parenthood would be affected? A little over a year following the first video release, Harris County’s political retaliation was dropped and both the felony and misdemeanor charges were dismissed; the following election season, the Harris County DA was replaced.  Now in July of 2017, the public is still discussing these videos, babies have been saved from abortion because people saw what abortion was, many pro-choice individuals have become actively pro-life, and greater political strides have been taken to cut funding from Planned Parenthood both on the federal and state level.  Congress has asked the Texas Attorney General to prosecute Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast and 9 agencies involved in the harvesting and profiting off of baby parts.  Even still, Daleiden and Merritt are facing politically charged legal complications in California on a state and federal level especially with AG Becerra and with US District Judge Orrick, III, who have strong ties to NAF and Planned Parenthood and NARAL as considerations are now also being made as to whether to hold Daleiden’s attorneys in contempt of court in a situation that appears to be lacking clarity regarding two judges ruling over each other’s permission of trial evidence.

 Please take some time today to pray for Daleiden and Merritt and consider donating to their cause!

Blog Post written by:
Theresa Camara
Program Director
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