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David Daleiden (L), Dr Forrest Smith (middle) and Tom Brejcha (R)of Thomas More Society outside San Francisco Superior Court Sept. 17, 2019.Lianne Laurence / LifeSiteNews

SAN FRANCISCO, California, September 18, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — In a startling twist, one of the United States' longest-practicing abortionists took the stand this week in a California courtroom to defend undercover pro-life investigators David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt.

Dr. Forrest Smith, an obstetrician-gynecologist who is also an abortionist in California, told the San Francisco court that not only did Daleiden's and Merritt's now-famous videos expose the gruesome truth about the abortion industry's trade in fetal body parts, but that things are even worse than they knew.

Smith testified that it is almost certain that some of the abortionists featured in the undercover videos deliberately altered abortion procedures in a way that both led to the birth of living babies with beating hearts, and put women at risk. The goal in these cases would be to obtain fresher, more intact organs.

Smith testified that when he first saw Daleiden on television in 2015 he told his wife, “I’m going to take down that son of a bitch. He’s f**king with me now’.” However, that all changed after he personally met Daleiden and saw his videos.

He first called Daleiden on August 15, 2015 and met him in person two months later, with the intent “to expose David Daleiden as a fraud.”

But after he saw the videos of Planned Parenthood executives and those from the National Abortion Federation conference in 2014, he realized that not only was Daleiden telling the truth, “he didn’t know the half of what was going on.”

Merritt and Daleiden, from the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), are charged with 14 felony counts of recording confidential information without consent in connection with undercover videos CMP released in 2015, exposing Planned Parenthood’s trafficking in baby body parts. The preliminary hearing will determine if any of the charges could proceed to a trial. It is taking place at San Francisco’s Superior Court where Judge Christopher Hite is presiding. 

The defense is claiming a Section 633.5 defense, which allows the covert taping of confidential information when collecting evidence of violent crimes. Defense is also arguing the law does not consider as confidential conversations that can reasonably be expected to be overheard.

An ob/gyn who trained at Duke University, Smith told the court that he’s “the longest practicing abortion doctor in the United States today” and that he has done at least 50,000 abortions.

Smith said he was retained by the defense as an expert to review the material, such as videos, articles, testimony of Does 9, 10 and 12 (those accusing Daleiden and Merritt of illegally taping them cannot be named by judge’s order) to assess whether the defendants’ belief that babies were being born alive during abortions was reasonable.

Smith testified that he reviewed video footage of a presentation given by Alisa Goldberg at a 2014 Planned Parenthood conference that advocated the use of large doses of misoprostol to complete a second-trimester induced abortion procedure in one day. According to Smith, Goldberg's presentation suggests that Planned Parenthood abortionists were employing a method that was likely to result in live births.

The accepted method for this type of abortion is to dilate the cervix by inserting laminaria, or seaweed sticks, one or two days before the abortion, depending on the baby’s gestational age. Misoprostol can act as a cervical preparation agent in small doses of 25 to 100 mg to soften the cervix for an induction of a term pregnancy, Smith said.

But large doses of 300 to 400 mg every three to four hours to induce labor for an abortion – as Planned Parenthood abortionists were apparently doing – will trigger “tumultuous labor” that will result in “fetal expulsion,” in which “the fetus comes out without any assistance from the abortion doctor, no instrumentation.”

“In this case clearly the intent is same-day surgery,” he said. “They fully intend to put the uterus into labor.”

Smith testified that “very few people in abortion, outside of Planned Parenthood, do that.”

He said the CMP video in which Perrin Larton, procurement manager for fetal organ harvesters Advanced Bioscience Research (ABR) talks about a “fetus falling out” was a case of fetal expulsion.

Daleiden’s lawyer, Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society, then asked whether such an expulsion would be a live birth.

“There’s no question in my mind that at least some of these fetuses were live births,” Smith replied.

In response to Breen's question, Smith said he was aware that the drug digoxin — which overwhelms the baby's heart — is used in abortion to “induce fetal demise, a euphemism they like.” 

If a baby was expelled during an abortion using misoprostol and the drug digoxin had not been used, would the baby be alive, Breen asked.

“No question it's alive,” answered Smith.

The sign of life is a beating heart, he said. However, the abortionists featured in CMP's videos appeared to be applying less stringent requirements to determine the death of the fetus. “All testimony we have seen, no breathing, no movement, no cord” or the “cord clamped,” or “arms, legs torn off, the assumption is: that is fetal demise,” Smith said. “But that’s completely wrong.”

Smith testified that to comply with the partial-birth abortion ban, his technique in a D&E abortion is to extract the umbilical cord, and cut it so “exsanguination can occur.” He then “watches with my ultrasound” for a heartbeat.

The baby’s heart will continue to beat for “six-and-a-half to seven minutes,” he said. That’s been his consistent observation in the 25 years he’s used this method.

He said that Doe 9 “is having live births although she doesn’t know.” She is basing fetal demise on “lack of pulsation of the fetal cord” and “that’s not fetal demise.”

Breen attempted to establish whether babies alive after being expelled from the uterus would be killed by being harvested for organs minutes later, but that line of questioning was not allowed as speculative and irrelevant.

Smith said the proper standard of care for babies born alive during an abortion was to “institute promptly all resuscitative care.” If this was not done, the fetus “dies by neglect.”

He said there was no question that Doe 10, caught on video saying she could ask her colleague to use the “less crunchy” technique, was willing to change the abortion procedure from electric to manual vacuum aspirator to obtain more intact fetal tissue. 

He testified that using a manual vacuum aspirator in an abortion “prolongs the procedure and increases blood loss,” as well as requiring much more cervical dilation at a greater risk to the patient.

It would only be used when electricity is not available — or to get more intact organs, he said.

Breen referenced an audio clip previously played in court of a CMP secret recording of abortion consultant Ruth Arick of Choice Pursuits, in which she says that abortionists will dilate the cervix to get an intact baby if they know a researcher wants a whole body. He asked Smith if that clip informed his opinion of the willingness of abortionist to change a procedure to harvest organs, he said.

“It didn't tell me anything more than the truth of what Arick said,” Smith answered

Smith said the “overarching theme” of the criminal and civil proceedings against the Center for Medical Progress was “informed consent and assumption of risk.”

He said that an abortion doctor should do an abortion in the “fastest safest way,” and that any change in the procedure should be explained to the patient beforehand.

“You can kill a human being, which I admit abortion is, but you have to do it in certain ways,” he said. 

An abortion doctor must tell his patient she can “choose the mechanics of the death of your fetus.”

Smith is an abortionist who is “very honest” and has “no illusions” about the abortion industry, Daleiden told LifeSiteNews. 

Smith's testimony was “powerful, I think it was very clarifying for everyone in the courtroom to understand how Planned Parenthood in their fetal organ and tissue harvesting programs are violating all kinds of medical ethics, laws and standards of patients care,” he said.

“And I think it's really important for courts considering these issues to hear that kind of expert testimony,” he added. 

Smith’s testimony “definitely proved that these babies are being deliberately born alive for the purposes of harvesting, the changes in the method and the refusal to use digoxin, which stops the heart,” Dr. Therese Deisher, who testified for the defense Wednesday, told LifeSiteNews.

“They want those babies coming out with beating hearts,” she said, adding that Smith’s testimony made it “very clear that this is intentional.”

Smith testified on cross-examination by deputy Attorney-General Johnette Jauron that he has “hated” Planned Parenthood for “about 50 years.”

Judge Hite asked Smith if a patient consenting to donate fetal tissue allows a doctor to make changes in procedure without informing the patient. 

Smith said no.

Hite asked Smith if he was retained by the defendants and how much they were paying him. Smith replied that it was agreed he would be paid $5,000 to testify as an expert witness in the criminal preliminary hearing and $5,000 for the trial.

“If there is one,” said the judge.

Read LifeSiteNews’ coverage of Daleiden and Merritt’s preliminary hearing here.

Sept. 19, 2019, 10:35 AM EST update: This report has now been updated to include additional quotes from Smith and Breen during the hearing and additional comments from Daleiden.