Two anti-abortion activists whose secretly recorded conversations with executives from Planned Parenthood made national headlines are each facing 15 felony charges in California, reports the Los Angeles Times. David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt posed as executives of a fake bioresearch company and filmed their conversations with Planned Parenthood officials about obtaining fetal tissue. They posted the resulting videos in 2015 via the Center for Medical Progress, accusing Planned Parenthood of being in the business of illegally harvesting and selling organs from aborted fetuses. Planned Parenthood says the videos were deceptively edited. Now, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra has charged the pair with filming 14 people without their permission, plus an additional count of conspiracy to invade privacy.
"The right to privacy is a cornerstone of California’s Constitution, and a right that is foundational in a free democratic society," said Becerra. "We will not tolerate the criminal recording of confidential conversations." Daleiden called the charges "bogus" and tells the Washington Post that he and Merritt were engaged in "citizen journalism." Similar charges against the pair in Texas were eventually dropped. Planned Parenthood, for its part, faced investigations in about a dozen states over the videos, but those have resulted in no charges. "As we have said from the beginning ... Planned Parenthood has done nothing wrong, and the only people who broke the law are those behind the fraudulent tapes," said the group's Mary Alice Carter. (Last month, a judge in Texas ruled that the state cannot cut off Medicaid funds to the group over the videos.)