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California Attorney General Searches Home of Indicted Anti-Choice Operative David Daleiden

Jessica Mason Pieklo

Officials from California Attorney General Kamala Harris' office reportedly executed a search of anti-choice activist David Daleiden's home late Tuesday. The search appears to be connected with an investigation into whether Daleiden violated California law when he and associates surreptitiously recorded abortion providers in the state.

Officials from the California Attorney General Kamala Harris’ office reportedly executed a search of anti-choice activist David Daleiden’s apartment late Tuesday.

The search appears to be connected to an ongoing investigation by Harris’ office into videos produced and released by Daleiden and associates that claim to show Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of fetal tissue for profit. Federal law prohibits the sale or purchase of fetal tissue, but it does permit reimbursement for costs associated with donating it for medical research. Daleiden first released the videos in question in July 2015 under the banner of the Center for Medical Progress, an organization Daleiden created with the help of Troy Newman, head of the radical anti-choice group Operation Rescue.

Last year, Harris wrote that her office would review whether the Center for Medical Progress violated any California laws while obtaining the footage.

The Center for Medical Progress announced the search on its Facebook page, releasing a statement purportedly by Daleiden denouncing the search:

Today, the California Attorney General’s office of Kamala Harris, who was elected with tens of thousands of dollars from taxpayer-funded Planned Parenthood, seized all video footage showing Planned Parenthood’s criminal trade in aborted baby parts, in addition to my personal information. Ironically, while seizing my First Amendment work product, they ignored documents showing the illicit scheme between StemExpress and Planned Parenthood. This is no surprise—Planned Parenthood’s bought-and-paid-for AG has steadfastly refused to enforce the law against the baby body parts traffickers in our state, or even investigate them—while at the same time doing their bidding to harass and intimidate citizen journalists. We will pursue all remedies to vindicate our First Amendment rights.

Representatives from Harris’ office declined to comment on the search, citing the ongoing investigation.

The release of the videos prompted several state and congressional investigations of Planned Parenthood’s practices concerning fetal tissue collection and donation. At the time the video footage was recorded and released, the organization accepted reimbursement for costs related to the donation of fetal tissue as permitted by law. None of the investigations have produced any evidence of wrongdoing.

Nonetheless, so far 11 states led by conservative governors have moved ahead to try and defund Planned Parenthood from state family planning programs while Republicans continue investigations into the reproductive health-care provider at the federal level with hearings in Congress.

In addition to the investigation by Harris’ office, Daleiden and CMP face three civil lawsuits, including allegations that the organization is a criminal enterprise engaged in fraud in violation of federal racketeering law.

Daleiden also faces criminal indictment related to the recording and release of the videos in Houston, Texas.

Vicki Saporta, president and CEO of the National Abortion Federation (NAF), a nonprofit advocacy organization for abortion providers and a plaintiff in a lawsuit against Daleiden and CMP related to their sting operation, released a statement supporting Harris’ actions.

“We fully support a thorough investigation into the activities perpetrated by David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress. As the evidence has shown in our case, he engaged in a long-running criminal conspiracy,” Saporta said. “His actions are not without consequences.”

NAF earlier today released a report showing a significant uptick in threats of violence against abortion doctors, patients, and staff following the release of Daleiden’s videos.

A federal court has blocked the release of any additional video footage from Daleiden and CMP while the litigation proceeds.

Daleiden’s attorneys did not respond to a request to comment prior to publication.

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