In 2015 The Center for Medical Progress (CMP), led by David Daleiden, released explosive undercover videos featuring top Planned Parenthood executives candidly discussing the procurement and sale of fetal tissue. Since then, these videos have sparked a massive Planned Parenthood counter campaign, multiple lawsuits against Daleiden and his associate Sandra Merritt, the demise of a major procurement corporation, and a full scale investigation by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) into Planned Parenthood’s baby body parts business.
On July 15th, 2015, CMP released its first video featuring Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Senior Medical Director, Dr. Deborah Nucatola. Nucatola discussed various ways to alter late-term abortion procedures in order to obtain more valuable tissue for sale (a federal crime). People from across the political spectrum were horrified and shocked by the callus way Nucatola spoke about the demand for fetal livers, lungs, and hearts, all while enjoying a salad and red wine.
Prior to the release, Daleiden spent two-years working undercover posing as Robert Sarkis, an employee of Biomax—a tissue procurement company. This alias allowed Daleiden to go deep within the abortion industry to collect data including the video featuring Dr. Nucatola. CMP released a dozen additional videos depicting similar conversations with other top-level Planned Parenthood medical staff looking to contribute to the fiscal growth of their clinics. Planned Parenthood needed a counter narrative, and needed to act fast. It promptly poured an alleged $8 million into a PR campaign that gave rise to the hashtag #StandWithPP as well as talking points like “deceptively edited” and “anti-choice extremists” which dominated every major media outlet.
Soon after the initial release, Planned Parenthood, Stem Express (a tissue procurement company) and the National Abortion Federation filed a series of lawsuits against the CMP team. Although Stem Express eventually dropped its lawsuit and walked away empty handed, PPFA and the NAF were able to secure a preliminary injunction which prevented CMP from releasing the hours of additional footage to the public or to law enforcement. The presiding judge in this case, Judge William Orrick III, has an ongoing relationship with Planned Parenthood Northern California, one of the plaintiffs suing Daleiden. According to CMP, there are at least a dozen additional videos yet to be released. On December 13, 2017 attorneys representing CMP filed a writ of mandamus at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in hopes of removing Orrick and replacing him with an unbiased judge. It’s unclear why San Francisco’s courts have not already removed Orrick from the case.
In December 2017 the DOJ announced its investigation into Planned Parenthood’s role in the sale and trafficking of human fetal organs. And as recently as December 8, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas reached a plea deal with DV Biologics LLC and sister company DaVinci Biosciences LLC—a biotech procurement company that worked directly with Planned Parenthood—in which the company will pay $7.8 million in damages, admit guilt in trafficking fetal tissue, and abandon all business in California. According to the lawsuit, the company spent years selling tissue for up to $1,100 per vial in at least ten different countries. CMP expects an honest investigation of Planned Parenthood Northern California will reveal similar crimes.
Daleiden and Merritt continue to face 15 felony charges filed by California State Attorney General, Xavier Becerra, who has taken tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Planned Parenthood. Becerra is charging the duo, not with defamation, but with eavesdropping and one count of conspiracy to eavesdrop. This ignores the fact that these conversations took place in public spaces.
These are pivotal times. Daleiden and Merritt’s work, could not only defund Planned Parenthood, but see it prosecuted for these crimes. Once Planned Parenthood’s pervasive message is eliminated from media outlets and the offices of elected officials, an honest conversation can be had about the relationship between abortion and profit in America. This truth exposed could very likely signal the end to legal abortion in the United States, and the beginning of a culture that respects the inherent dignity and worth of every human, born and preborn.
Terrisa is a co-leader of Secular Pro-Life.
To watch the undercover videos and to learn more, visit