By now, David Daleiden is a household name, known for his series of videos exposing Planned Parenthood’s trade in fetal body parts. Millions of people watched in horror as Planned Parenthood directors casually discussed the dismemberment of babies in the womb and then negotiated sale of their parts for profit. The videos served as the catalyst for congressional hearings and state and federal criminal investigations into Planned Parenthood and its abortion allies.
David’s colleague and co-defendant is Sandra Merritt, an unassuming 64-year old grandmother from Northern California. With your help, Life Legal is assisting Sandra and David as they battle felony charges filed by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra.
When we asked Sandra why she became involved with the pro-life movement, she had a straight-forward answer: “Because I think ripping the legs off babies in the womb, sucking their brains out, stabbing them with digoxin, and killing them in the womb is wrong.”
Sandra grew up in the 60’s, a time of “vocabulary warfare.” It wasn’t until she became a Christian in her thirties that she “came out of the fog of rhetoric and lies.” She realized what abortion was and committed to doing what she could to stop it. For her, the connection between (1) the belief that killing babies is wrong, and (2) the responsibility to do something to stop it, is immediate. Simply standing on the sidelines and believing abortion is wrong is not enough.
How did this 64-year-old grandmother find herself charged with multiple felonies in multiple states and on the receiving end of three civil lawsuits?
A few years ago, Sandra had a job working with young children. The contrast between the innocence of the young children and the terrible news surfacing every day from every corner of the world began to depress her. A friend gave Sandra a copy of a prayer. Sandra prayed, “Lord, I’m old and getting older. The world is dark and getting darker. I give You total control of my life. Use me in this dark world.” Within twenty-four hours a young man she had never met before contacted her and asked her to be part of a project to uncover the darkness within the abortion industry. The young man was David Daleiden.
Sandra was away from home most of the day the first undercover video was released in July 2015. Right before she left the house, her daughter showed her that it was on YouTube and had 47 views. Sandra was thrilled. “This is great! Forty-seven people have seen Planned Parenthood talking about ripping up babies. Now they won’t believe their lies anymore. This is so great!” She went out, thankful that 47 people knew about Planned Parenthood killing babies. When she arrived home in the evening, her daughters made her sit down and then told her that the video had had almost a million views. “This is big, huh,” she said. “This is like that Justin Bieber guy.” The reach of the videos is beyond anything she imagined.
In March of this year, the attorney general of California brought fifteen felony charges against Sandra and David Daleiden. Fourteen charges are for allegedly illegally recording confidential conversations and the fifteenth is for allegedly conspiring to illegally record confidential conversations.
She arrived at the San Francisco courthouse for her arraignment for the fifteen felony counts. She saw a woman setting up a sign in front of the building and stopped to read it. When the woman moved, she read, “Pro-Life Atheist.” She asked what the sign meant. The woman started to explain about her group of atheists who oppose abortion, but interrupted herself: “Are you Sandra?” She was there to support Sandra and David at their court appearance.
The coincidental meeting encouraged Sandra. “Atheists get it. Atheists understand the dignity of life.” It reminded her of all the people from wildly different backgrounds who vehemently disagree with the attorney general’s overreach. From Milo Yiannopoulos to the editors of the Sacramento Bee, everyone with an ounce of integrity opposes the felony prosecution in California. “All intellectually honest people get it.”
The courthouse refused to allow her to see a judge without first being booked into the jail. She talked to several guards about what she was in for and told them what Planned Parenthood does to babies. Most were shocked and disgusted. She told one guard to Google Planned Parenthood and Planned Parenthood’s founder Margaret Sanger. The guard came and found her an hour later, horrified by what he had learned. Sandra’s cellmates wanted to know what they were talking about. She told them what Planned Parenthood does to babies.
The women couldn’t bear hearing her describe how abortions are performed.
Sandra appeared at her arraignment in an orange jumpsuit. After the first judge recused himself for undisclosed reasons, they appeared before a second judge. Sandra’s attorney asked for a reduction in the outrageous $75,000 bail, presenting abundant evidence that the chance of her fleeing and not appearing for her trial are very slim, even with a smaller bail. But the deputy attorney general argued that Sandra’s “victims”—the abortionists she recorded discussing killing babies—were terrorized and lived in fear for their lives.
After the hearing, while her attorneys arranged for her bail, Sandra went back to the jail and continued talking to the guards and prisoners about Planned Parenthood. Sandra described the plastic baggie of food that was handed in for dinner: two slices of bread, a slice of cheese, a butter pat, and a carton of milk. Her cellmates told her that the same meal is served three times a day. Sandra quipped, “Where is Michelle Obama on jail menus?” She was released after twelve hours in custody.
Despite all of the hardships she has faced and will continue to face, Sandra is at peace. She knows God called her into the project and God brought her to where she is. “It’s a beautiful journey,” she says. “Anybody can do this. Grandma can do this—anyone can.”
What can we do to help end abortion? “Whatever you’re doing, ask yourself if you can do just a little bit more,” Sandra urges. “If you can’t spend an hour in front of an abortion clinic, can you take two minutes and call your senator? Can you give a little bit more money to a pro-life organization? Whatever you do, ask yourself: ‘Can I do a little bit more?’”
Full story at Life Legal Defense Foundation.