Pro-life activists David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt called on an abortionist to help in their legal defense. Forrest Smith, who claims to have committed 50,000 abortions in his career, testified for the defense last week at the pre-trial hearing for Daleiden and Merritt, who face more than a dozen felony charges related to their work exposing how Planned Parenthood sold aborted babies’ body parts. Smith told a judge last week that Planned Parenthood’s practice of delivering live babies and harvesting their organs defied even the abortion industry’s standards of decency.
In 2015, the Center for Medical Progress released the results of an undercover investigation in which Daleiden and Merritt posed as representatives of a tissue procurement company that buys the organs and tissue of aborted babies for scientific research. Daleiden and Merritt clandestinely recorded Planned Parenthood executives describing how they priced baby body parts and altered abortion procedures to procure the best possible specimens.
The videos sparked multiple congressional investigations and calls for federal and state governments to defund Planned Parenthood. Several states passed laws to keep the abortion giant from getting taxpayer money.
As attorney general of California, Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris, who is running for president and is a staunch ally of Planned Parenthood, charged Daleiden and Merritt with breaking confidentiality agreements and violating California laws when they recorded conversations at National Abortion Federation trade shows in 2014 and 2015. But California’s two-party consent law on recorded conversations has an exception for collecting evidence of a violent crime. That’s where abortionist Smith comes in.
Smith testified that Daleiden’s recordings included Planned Parenthood employees describing procedures and methods that amounted to feticide.
“There’s no question in my mind that at least some of these fetuses were live births,” Smith said on the stand, according to LifeSite News, which had a reporter in the courtroom. Smith described how abortionists can ensure babies are dead before removing them from the womb by using the heart-stopping drug digoxin or, in a late-term pregnancy, extracting and cutting the umbilical cord and watching on an ultrasound for the baby’s heart to stop. Those methods, he said, comply with laws that allow abortion but not partial-birth abortion or feticide.
Planned Parenthood employees told the Center for Medical Progress in the recordings that they did not use digoxin for abortions when collecting fetal tissue for research because the drug would damage the organs. They also said they sometimes use the drug mifepristone to put mothers into early labor and have them deliver an extremely premature baby.
“Very few people in abortion, outside of Planned Parenthood, do that,” Smith said on the stand. On the final day of the hearing, stem cell scientist Theresa Deisher testified that fetal hearts used in studies must be harvested from living babies. She said the heart “has to be beating and be arrested in a relaxed position.” If the baby dies beforehand, the heart contracts and cannot be used.
Daleiden and Merritt hope the evidence presented in the hearing, which stretched longer than two weeks, will prove to the judge that not enough evidence against them exists to continue to trial. San Francisco Superior Court Judge Christopher Hite has not issued his ruling yet.
“We think it’s enough, more than enough, to show there was no probable cause for the attorney general to believe that this was not a good faith effort to find evidence of violence, homicidal violence against unborn babies,” said Tom Brejcha, an attorney with the Thomas More Society, which represents Daleiden and Merritt. “I mean, it’s almost embarrassing to have to talk about this awful stuff.”