Last Monday, a California judge ruled that the names of 14 Planned Parenthood workers and others will remain sealed during the prosecution of two pro-life activists charged with secretly recording them.
Hite threatened to punish anyone caught providing the names. Charges were first filed against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt of the Center for Medical Progress in 2017.
"The reason for the sealing is they are in fear of bodily harm," California attorney general prosecutor Johnette Jauron said, referring to the 14 people featured in the recordings.
Merritt’s lawyer Horacio Mihet and Daleiden’s attorney Brentford Ferreira were opposed to sealing the names. Each told the judge they didn’t give the names to the website, and aren’t sure who did.
The disturbing videos were first released by the Center for Medical Progress in 2015. They allegedly depict Planned Parenthood executives and workers discussing the illegal harvesting and selling-for-profit of body parts of aborted babies. Subjects in the videos can be seen discussing prices, picking through fetal arms and legs in a tray, and figuring out which abortion methods might work best for obtaining fetal body parts to sell.
According to Dr. Monica Miller, a veteran pro-life activist, the videos ultimately amount to “a glimpse of Hell.”
“Those videos captured for all posterity…the very way the abortion staff talks about the unborn, the way that they handled the unborn in the backrooms of their very own clinics…They will never be able to run from those images,” Miller said in a 2016 interview.
Former Planned Parenthood executive director Cecile Richards privately admitted in 2016 that the videos “do hurt” Planned Parenthood’s reputation.
Public outrage over the release of the tapes resulted in a series of congressional hearings and a call for the federal government to defund Planned Parenthood.
The judge said Monday that he would rule later on Planned Parenthood’s unusual legal demand to join California’s criminal prosecution of Daleiden and Merritt. The two are charged with invasion of privacy for secretly recording videos while pretending to be interested in the purchase of “fetal material” from the organization.
Hite will also rule later on whether to seal videos shown in court once the case concludes.
Daleiden and Merritt pleaded not guilty and argue that they are undercover journalists and, therefore, shielded from prosecution.
The names of the 14 individuals incriminated in the undercover videos have reportedly been publicly available on the internet since 2017. But this week ProLife San Francisco was ordered by Twitter to remove their tweet listing the names, or have their account suspended. It appears that the tweet has since been removed.
Planned Parenthood has argued that the videos were heavily edited, and has denied selling “fetal material” for profit.
The preliminary hearing in Daleiden and Merritt’s case has been postponed until April 22.