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SAN FRANCISCO, California, September 10, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Since the 2015 release of undercover videos documenting Planned Parenthood’s illegal trafficking in body parts of aborted babies, the fury of the abortion industry and its Democratic allies has fallen on pro-life investigators David Daleiden and Sandra Susan Merritt of the Center for Medical Progress (CMP).

Tucker Carlson summed it this way when speaking to Daleiden on his Sept. 6 show: “You bring to light clearly illegal and appalling and immoral behavior by Planned Parenthood and then you become the target of a criminal investigation.” 

The groundbreaking undercover videos showed Planned Parenthood executives and workers haggling over the prices of baby body parts, picking through bloodied arms and legs of aborted babies in a pie tray, and discussing how to alter abortion methods to obtain better body parts for sale.

Public outrage over the videos prompted congressional hearings, a Senate committee recommendation for an FBI investigation, a Department of Justice investigation, and moves by the Trump administration to partially defund Planned Parenthood.

Key leaders from Planned Parenthood have resigned since and many of the abortionists who appeared in the CMP videos have left the abortion-providing giant, as Operation Rescue reported in February of this year.

Daleiden and Merritt now face 15 felony counts of illegal taping of confidential information under California’s anti-eavesdropping law. If convicted, they could be jailed for 10 years. 

Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation (NAF) are both suing CMP.

Daleiden and Merritt’s criminal preliminary hearing before Judge Christopher Hite of the Superior Court of San Francisco County is set to enter its second week of testimony on Tuesday. Hite will decide if there is probable cause to continue to trial. He may drop some charges or reduce them to misdemeanours.  

LifeSiteNews has compiled a timeline of the events, by no means exhaustive, leading up to the preliminary hearing. Judge Hite ordered the names of Daleiden and Merritt’s 14 accusers in the criminal charges sealed during the prosecution, so they are referred to by their “Doe” designations.


  • July 14, 2015: Center for Medical Progress releases the first undercover video exposing Planned Parenthood’s selling of baby body parts; “Doe 9,” former director of medical services for Planned Parenthood Federation of America discusses over a lunch of wine and salad how to crush the baby to obtain intact organs, and says PP abortionists convert baby to breech (the illegal partial-birth abortion method) to obtain intact heads
  • July 21, 2015: CMP releases a second video in which Doe 10, then president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s for-profit Medical Directors’ Council, haggling over prices of fetal parts, quipping she “wants a Lamborghini.”
  • July 31, 2015:  The National Abortion Federation (NAF) sues CMP and obtains a federal order from Judge William H. Orrick III of the US District Court of Northern California, who has ties to Planned Parenthood, that bans publication of CMP undercover videos of the NAF conferences.
  • August 4, 2015: CMP releases 5th video, in which director of research for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast Melissa Farrell says abortionists are willing to alter the abortion process to obtain the body parts researchers request, or to deliver a child essentially intact. It also includes graphic footage of investigators seeing pristine organs extracted from a 20-week-old aborted baby.
  • August 19, 2015: CMP releases 7th video of former StemExpress technician Holly O’Donnell who describes having to cut a baby’s face with scissors, and Dr. Ben Van Handel, the vice president of Novogenix Laboratories, saying: “there are times when, after the [abortion] procedure is done, that the heart is still beating.”
  • October 6, 2015: Judge Orrick rules CMP can release all undercover Planned Parenthood footage to Congress but must provide it to NAF as well.
  • October 22, 2015: releases 11 CMP videos blocked by a restraining order of NAF convention it obtained from a hacker, including footage of Dr. Lisa Harris telling colleagues “killing” is “the most important thing I could do with my life,” and abortion facility owner Renee Chelian saying that ”burning aborted babies' bodies to generate electricity is “a great idea.”
  • April 5, 2016: California Attorney General Kamala Harris ordered agents to enter Daleiden’s Orange County apartment and seize all the material he collected during the 30-month-long investigation he conducted on behalf of the Center for Medical Progress. Harris received $15,000 from five Planned Parenthood-affiliated PACS in 2014 for her re-election run as A-G, and ran on a platform to stop any efforts to defund Planned Parenthood in 2016 in her run for US Senate. She has received at least $254,370 from groups dedicated to “women's issues” and a $5,000 donation from EMILY's List to the Kamala Harris Victory Fund.
  • September 28, 2016: Former Los Angeles County district attorney Steve Cooley, one of Daleiden’s criminal defence lawyers, releases emails that show Planned Parenthood helped Harris draft a law specifically targeting CMP.
  • December 13, 2016: Senate Judiciary Committee chair Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-IA, says he is referring several Planned Parenthood affiliates and companies involved in fetal tissue transfers, as well as the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, to the FBI and the Department of Justice for investigation and possible prosecution.
  • March 28, 2017: The state of California now led by Democrat California A-G Xavier Becerra charges Daleiden and Merritt with 14 felony counts of the illegal recording of confidential communications under Penal Code section 632, and one count of conspiracy to violate section 632 on behalf of 14 secret accusers identified as “Does.” The charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
  • March 29, 2017: CMP releases undercover video showing Dr. DeShawn Taylor, previous Medical Director of Planned Parenthood of Arizona and longtime abortion provider at Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, graphically describing how to deliver aborted babies intact so that their body parts can be harvested.
  • May 25, 2017: CMP posts a video from a National Abortion Federation conference under gag order by Orrick which shows abortionists admitting what they do is “killing,” complaining about how “difficult” it is to tear apart a fetus, and lamenting that they’re not given a place to discuss the “heads that get stuck that we can’t get out.”
  • May 26, 2017: CMP removes the video the next day after Orrick threatens to hold them in contempt.
  • July 12, 2017: Orrick finds Cooley and his associate, former Los Angeles assistant district attorney Brentford Ferreira, who is also defending Daleiden, in contempt of court for releasing banned videos of National Abortion Federation conferences. 
  • July 19, 2017: Orrick finds David Daleiden and CMP in contempt for releasing banned videos of the NAF federation conferences, and levies a penalty reported at the time to be around $137,000; Cooley and Ferreira announce they will appeal.
  • August 31, 2017: Orrick releases ruling fining Daleiden, Cooley and Ferreira $195,000 for civil contempt of court.
  • December 10, 2017: Two tissue procurement companies exposed by CMP, DV Biologics LLC and sister company DaVinci Biosciences LLC, reach $7.78 million settlement with Orange County DA’s office and are order to cease all operations in California within 60 to 120 days.
  • August 16, 2018: CMP files motion to lift Orrick’s federal injunction banning publication of its undercover videos of the NAF convention and abortion trade show.
  • December 8, 2018: News breaks that U.S. Department of Justice is investigating Planned Parenthood for selling baby body parts, more than two years after the release of the CMP videos.
  • February 11, 2019: Judge Christopher C. Hite of the Superior Court of San Francisco County rules the names of the 14 “Does” listed as accusers in criminal charges against Daleiden and Merritt will remain sealed during the case. The names had been published by LifeSiteNews and have been publicly available on the internet since 2017.
  • April 19, 2019: California Supreme Court’s chief justice issued a stay in the criminal prosecution after Merritt’s lawyers, Horatio Mihet of Liberty Counsel and Nic Coscis, filed a permit for review and Daleiden’s lawyers, Peter Breen of the Thomas More Society and Brent Ferreira, followed suit.
  • May 20, 2019: California Supreme Court denies Daleiden’s and Merritt’s petition to drop criminal proceedings against them.
  • June 4, 2019: Liberal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals tosses out Daleiden’s request to overturn the contempt charge against him by Orrick in 2017; he must pay $195,000 fine. 
  • August 23, 2019: CMP lawyers file a motion to have the Kamala Harris-ordered 2016 raid on Daleiden’s home and seizure of CMP’s videos disqualified. If the political search warrant is thrown out, the criminal charges will have to be dismissed for lack of probable cause.
  • September 3, 2019: Preliminary hearing on criminal charges begins.

Watch this special report where LifeSite Managing Editor Patrick Craine speaks with reporter Lianne Laurence who is on the ground in San Francisco covering the criminal case against pro-life investigators David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt: