(National Review) Xavier Becerra is trying hard in his confirmation hearings for secretary of the Health and Human Services Department to present himself as an amicable moderate seeking “common ground” with all Americans. But this is only a ruse to hide the truth: He is a pro-abortion zealot determined to wield the powers of his office to support and entrench the most extreme interests of the abortion industry.
I know because for the past four years, I have been suffering as the victim of discriminatory prosecution at Becerra’s hands. My “crime”? Publishing undercover video footage of senior Planned Parenthood leadership callously negotiating the harvesting and sale of aborted baby body parts in 2015.
As attorney general of California, Xavier Becerra has continued and intensified the unprecedented criminal case under California’s video-recording law launched by now-Vice President Kamala Harris in 2016 at the behest of top Planned Parenthood executives in the state. Undercover reporting is generally legal and widely practiced in California. Using this tactic, local news and activists have exposed animal abuse, unlicensed marijuana sales, and corrupt chiropractors. Yet somehow when it is Planned Parenthood’s admissions of torturing human fetuses to death to sell their body parts captured on video, then it becomes a “crime” — a felony! — for Harris and Becerra to prosecute.
After my videos were released, Planned Parenthood was under well-deserved scrutiny from the public, from Congress, and from law enforcement — in fact, its fetal-tissue-research program in southern California was under criminal investigation by a local district attorney. Local law enforcement made clear to Planned Parenthood that my California videos were recorded in public places and were perfectly legal. But Planned Parenthood still demanded retaliation from its minions in the attorney general’s office. In April 2016, with explicit instructions from Planned Parenthood to seize the computer and video equipment I was using to publish the videos, Kamala Harris sent eleven armed California DOJ agents to raid my home and bully me into silence.
Almost a year later, shortly after Harris left the California attorney general’s office to become a U.S. senator, Xavier Becerra inherited the case as her successor. Becerra took Harris’s and her deputies’ dirty work and filed 15 felony charges — 14 under the video law and one of “conspiracy” — against me and one of my undercover investigators, Sandra Merritt (a retired grandmother and obvious danger to the public, if you believe Becerra and his henchmen). The Los Angeles Times called Becerra’s felony charges “a disturbing overreach.”
What was disturbing in 2017 has become Kafkaesque by today. When we put Becerra’s prosecutor to the test in court and asked why this case is the first and only criminal prosecution of undercover video reporting in the 60-year history of California’s recording law, the prosecutor responded in a court filing that what distinguished my case from all other undercover reporters in California is that my videos “were edited to enhance their shock value” and that therefore I was “culpable to a greater extent” than the other undercover video reporters who are never prosecuted. Of course I dispute the completely unfounded allegation that the videos were edited for shock value; the raw footage is shocking enough, and Planned Parenthood has admitted its authenticity under oath. Besides, it is a First Amendment right to publish and promote the significance of one’s message. That’s why Becerra’s courtroom admission is so stunning and dangerous — the whole point of freedom of speech is that the content of speech may not be punished.
Yet Becerra’s criminal quest against Merritt and me continues with no end in sight. After a preliminary hearing a year and a half ago, the 14 recording charges have now been reduced to seven — but that is still seven too many. It will be a grave injustice if an American citizen can be put on criminal trial simply for publishing the truth.
There is nothing American or common sense about Becerra’s record on freedom of expression or abortion. During the prelim, we presented evidence, including the expert testimony of one of America’s longest-practicing abortion providers, Dr. Forrest O. Smith, that infants are being delivered alive and killed through organ harvesting in Planned Parenthood’s fetal-research programs. The intent to gather evidence of violent crimes is an explicit exception to California’s video-recording law even in the case of a truly “confidential” conversation. In response, Becerra’s prosecutor shockingly argued that the exception must not apply if the infanticide happened as the result of an abortion, because a fetus subject to abortion should not be considered a “person,” whether born alive or not.
This barbaric argument throws Becerra’s recent advocacy for increased federal funding for fetal experimentation into a chilling new light. It is also foreboding for the future enforcement of President Trump’s executive order requiring equal medical care for infants born alive regardless of disability or prematurity in federal health-care programs. Planned Parenthood’s federally funded program, which Becerra is tasked with increasing, lethally discriminates against born-alive infants.
Despite the efforts of Harris and Becerra to weaponize state power against me on behalf of the abortion lobby, I am not giving up. Planned Parenthood’s business partners in southern California were shut down by local law enforcement in a $7.8 million settlement with an admission of guilt for illegally selling body parts. The more Planned Parenthood leadership testifies under oath, the more they confirm my reporting. I am still fighting to liberate the hundreds of hours of undercover footage that remains sealed.
But Becerra’s treatment of me shows exactly why he shouldn’t be put in charge of the Department of Health and Human Services. His record shows that he would abuse the power of this agency as a weapon in the culture war, wielding it on behalf of political allies like Planned Parenthood and against “enemies” like the Little Sisters of the Poor and me. Most gravely, he would fail in HHS’s most basic responsibility to protect the lives and health of the tiniest Americans, instead exploiting them for experimental use and turning the clock back to old policies that say our children are more valuable dead than alive. We all deserve better.
Editor’s Note: This article was originally published at National Review and is reprinted here with permission.
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