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The two antiabortion activists who mounted a hidden-camera investigation against Planned Parenthood officials have been charged with 15 felony counts of violating the privacy of health-care providers by recording confidential information without their consent. In announcing the charges against David Robert Daleiden and Sandra Merritt on Tuesday, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said the duo used manufactured identities and a fictitious bioresearch company to meet medical officials and covertly record the private discussions they initiated. “The right to privacy is a cornerstone of California’s Constitution, and a right that is foundational in a free democratic society,” Becerra said. “We will not tolerate the criminal recording of confidential conversations.” The criminal complaint alleges that on 14 occasions, between October 2013 and July 2015, Daleiden and Merritt filmed people without permission in Los Angeles, San Francisco and El Dorado counties. The activists face a felony count for each person covertly recorded, and an additional felony charge for criminal conspiracy to invade privacy. The charges mark a major turning point in a case that had drawn national attention from both sides of the abortion debate and led to investigations — but no charges — against Planned Parenthood in 13 states. The secretly recorded conversations dropped during the politically tumultuous summer of 2015, amid a crowded field of Republican presidential contenders, and turned Daleiden into the biggest star of the antiabortion movement. The heavily edited videos attempted to discredit Planned Parenthood, long a target of the right, and galvanized conservatives’ efforts to pull funding from the women’s health organization and other family planning programs.
UPDATE: A new Planned Parenthood undercover video has just been released. See below.