A San Francisco jury awarded Planned Parenthood $2.2 million in damages on Friday, finding that pro-life activist and investigative journalist David Daleiden broke federal and state laws when he secretly recorded abortion doctors and staff in an attempt to prove that they were illegally selling body parts from aborted babies.
Daleiden heads the Center for Medical Progress. He and his co-defendant Sandra Merritt posed as human tissue procurers for a fake company called BioMax as part of a hidden-camera investigation into Planned Parenthood. They attended abortion industry conferences from 2013 to 2015, where they secretly recorded conversations. Daleiden also made recordings at Planned Parenthood clinics in Texas and Colorado.
The group posted the interactions online, causing outrage in the pro-life movement, with many contending that the videos indeed showed the illegal sale of unborn baby remains on top of a callous disregard for life.
The jury found that Daleiden trespassed on private property and committed fraud. The $2.2 million awarded to Planned Parenthood includes $870,000 in punitive damages.
Daleiden released a statement after the verdict:
While top Planned Parenthood witnesses spent six weeks testifying under oath that the undercover videos are true and Planned Parenthood sold fetal organs on a quid pro quo basis, a biased judge with close Planned Parenthood ties spent six weeks influencing the jury with pre-determined rulings and by suppressing video evidence, all in order to rubber-stamp Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit attack on the First Amendment. This is a dangerous precedent for citizen journalism and First Amendment civil rights across the country, sending a message that speaking truth and facts criticizing the powerful is no longer protected by our institutions.