LOS ANGELES (AP) — California prosecutors on Tuesday charged two anti-abortion activists who made undercover videos of themselves trying to buy fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood with 15 felonies, saying they invaded the privacy of medical providers by filming without consent.
The charges against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt of the Center for Medical Progress come eight months after similar charges were dropped in Texas.
State Attorney General Xavier Becerra, a longtime Congressional Democrat who took over the investigation in January, said in a statement that the state “will not tolerate the criminal recording of conversations.”
Prosecutors say Daleiden, of Davis, California, and Merritt, of San Jose, filmed 14 people without permission between October 2013 and July 2015 in Los Angeles, San Francisco and El Dorado counties. One felony count was filed for each person. The 15th was for criminal conspiracy to invade privacy.
Daleiden said in an email to The Associated Press that the “bogus” charges are coming from “Planned Parenthood’s political cronies.”
“The public knows the real criminals are Planned Parenthood and their business partners,” Daleiden said.
The conversations included officials from Planned Parenthood and StemExpress, a California company that provides blood, tissue and other biological material for medical research and had received fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood.
In one of the pair’s videos, Daleiden poses as “Robert Sarkis” of the phony Biomax Procurement Services and is shown discussing liver tissue with the chief executive of StemExpress at a Northern California restaurant.
Abortion opponents said the recordings showed Planned Parenthood was illegally harvesting and selling the organs. Planned Parenthood said the videos were deceptively edited to support extremists’ false claims.
“As we have said from the beginning, and as more than a dozen different state investigations have made clear: Planned Parenthood has done nothing wrong, and the…