Judge Bans Evidence in Planned Parenthood Trial

Oct 9, 2019

The civil trial is now in the second week in the San Francisco Federal Courthouse, as Liberty Counsel defends Sandra Merritt against Planned Parenthood’s multimillion-dollar civil lawsuit, despite major challenges enacted by the court. 

Planned Parenthood filed a retaliatory, 15-count civil suit against Merritt, seeking $16 million as punishment for her undercover investigation, which revealed and exposed the largest abortion mill’s unethical and potentially illegal profiting from human baby body parts.

In this trial, it is the jury’s job to assess whether the conversations recorded in the videos are “private” or “confidential” under applicable state law. However, at Planned Parenthood’s request, Judge Orrick has refused to allow the defense to show the jury the exact video clips that reveal the conversations were done in public places and how Planned Parenthood provided baby body parts for sale. For example, in one video a Planned Parenthood doctor brags, while dining at a very public restaurant in Pasadena, that she wants a Lamborghini as she negotiates prices that Planned Parenthood would charge for human livers, thymus, brains, hearts, lungs and other body parts. She also stated that a “less crunchy technique” is used in the abortion process to get better human organs.

Instead, the court is allowing Planned Parenthood to play only very carefully edited snippets of innocuous things like people saying “hello.”

Merritt and her co-defendant, David Daleiden, the founder of the Center for Medical Progress, also knew about the recording laws in California and elsewhere. Merritt and Daleiden went out of their way to ensure that they only recorded in public places where non-participants to the conversations could overhear them.

When Merritt took the witness stand last week, Planned Parenthood questioned her extensively about her involvement in the undercover videos. She reaffirmed multiple times that she accepted the job working on the undercover project to investigate violent crimes committed by Planned Parenthood and others in trafficking baby body parts. Merritt testified that she received information and evidence that led her to believe that Planned Parenthood and others in the abortion industry were engaging in very serious criminal conduct such as: profiting from the sale of human organs; changing abortion procedures to maximize the number and value of organs that could be sold; and harvesting organs from human beings born alive during abortion procedures. Merritt believed that the public had a right to know that these things were taking place.

However, when Liberty Counsel’s Vice President of Legal Affairs and Chief Litigation Counsel Horatio Mihet questioned Merritt on the stand about what she had learned from information provided by StemExpress/Planned Parenthood Mar Monte whistleblower Holly O’Donnell, Judge Orrick paused the proceedings, ordered the jury to take a break, and instructed Mihet not to continue that line of questioning. When Merritt later began to describe learning about the Langendorff perfusion device used to keep a living heart beating outside the body, and its requirements to cut a beating heart out of a fetus, Judge Orrick cut off Merritt’s answer. 

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