Investigative

Pro-life undercover investigator David Daleiden fights to regain rights to his own recordings

Daleiden, Planned Parenthood, pro-life journalists, center for medical progress

Pro-life activist David Daleiden and his organization, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), returned to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last week in an attempt to regain the rights to 500 hours of undercover videos he recorded at National Abortion Federation meetings in 2014 and 2015.

Daleiden had gone undercover into those conferences as well as meetings with members of the abortion industry, and later alleged that the industry profits from the sale of body parts harvested from aborted babies, which is federally illegal.

After CMP released the undercover recordings, rather than investigate the abortion workers who were caught on camera haggling over pricing and discussing how they harvest organs, government officials instead targeted Daleiden. Then-California Attorney General Kamala Harris, now the Vice President of the United States, went so far as to order a raid on Daleiden’s apartment, telling agents to seize evidence from Daleiden’s investigation, including laptops and hard drives full of undercover footage.

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Last year, a federal judge in San Francisco ruled that the videos violated the terms that Daleiden had agreed to when he signed up to participate in the pro-abortion conferences where some of the recordings were made while Daleiden posed as an executive of his own fictional company, BioMax Procurement Services. Following a request from NAF, U.S. District Judge William Orrick, who has connections to Planned Parenthood, ordered Daleiden, CMP, and BioMax to remove the online content and give the originals and copies of the videos to Daleiden’s attorneys. Those attorneys were ordered to never share them without a court order, according to Reuters.

“This permanent injunction covering up the release of incriminating video from a large abortion trade show strikes at the heart of the First Amendment,” Thomas More Society Vice President and Senior Counsel Peter Breen said at the time. “The American people deserve to see and hear what the abortion providers of this country are willing to say and do to skirt and even violate the law. We will appeal this decision, to vindicate David Daleiden’s rights and the rights of every brave undercover journalist in this country and to hold bad actors like the National Abortion Federation to account.”

Daleiden maintains that the videos he recorded were created through investigative journalism and that signing NAF’s “one-page form with microscopic text” did not negate his constitutional right to report on matters of public concern such as the illegal trafficking of the body parts of aborted babies. He also argues that the permanent blockage of the videos violates copyright laws.

“Even if it were true that Defendants breached the agreements, that does not justify forever enjoining core First Amendment expression,” Heather Hacker of Hacker Stephens wrote in a brief to the 9th Circuit. She argues that Daleiden and CMP didn’t do anything different than investigative shows such as 20/20 or Dateline have done in pursuit of justice by way of investigative reporting.

Though Planned Parenthood was caught at the center of the aborted body parts scandal, yet the Department of Justice has not moved on the criminal referrals made by a U.S. House investigative panel several years ago. However, Planned Parenthood filed a lawsuit against Daleiden and CMP, and won a $2 million verdict. NAF was granted a preliminary blocking of the videos which it claims was violated by Daleiden’s attorneys in 2017 when they posted a link to the videos on the law firm’s website in response to a press release from then-AG Xavier Becerra.

In April 2021, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California granted NAF a permanent injunction barring Daleiden, BioMax, and CMP from releasing the videos.

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