Pro-lifers face criminal charges over videos

What happened?

Two pro-life activists have been charged by Californian prosecutors for secretly recording abortion providers. David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, from the Center for Medical Progress, released undercover videos in 2015, in which Planned Parenthood executives discussed the distribution of baby body parts. Daleiden and Merritt will be charged with privacy offences. Attorney general Xavier Becerra said California “will not tolerate the criminal recording of conversations”.

What did the media say?

At, Ian Tuttle described the prosecution as a “transparently partisan abuse of the state’s prosecutorial power”. The videos uncovered terrible “brutality”: one former abortionist recalled being presented with “the closest thing to a baby I’ve seen”, its heart still beating. She was told to “cut down the middle of the face” to harvest the child’s brain. This kind of crime, said Tuttle, was of no interest to California’s prosecutors.

At, Mark Joseph Stern said the “uproar” had the wrong target. California’s law had strong privacy protections: the prosecutors were just doing their job. But the pro-abortion LA Times said the pro-lifers’ intention of “revealing wrongdoing and changing public policy” was legitimate. State prosecution was a “disturbing overreach”, the paper argued.

What did Catholic say?

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, a columnist for The Week, said the prosecution set a “disastrous” precedent for free speech. “Undercover journalism is in the best journalistic tradition,” Gobry wrote, and it should be welcomed, not closed down. “As a Roman Catholic, if tomorrow an undercover video shows a bishop covering up corruption, I will be clapping with both hands and sharing it as wide as I can. Because as a Catholic, I believe in my Church’s mission and want it to be accountable so it can perform that mission better.”

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