David Daleiden and the abortion Goliath
The head of the Center for Medical Progress counts the cost of bringing down Planned Parenthood
David Daleiden, still in his 20s, is the man behind the undercover Planned Parenthood videos that have sparked congressional investigations and a national conversation about using fetal tissue in scientific research. With the possible exception of the Kermit Gosnell trial, nothing has sparked such outrage about the practices of abortionists since the Roe v. Wade ruling more than 40 years ago. Daleiden, founder of the Center for Medical Progress, has endured the anxiety of being inside the belly of the beast and of having to live very frugally since he could not publicly raise funds for his efforts. But that sacrifice has paid off, and in recent weeks he’s become a media celebrity. I recently had an opportunity to talk with him at a meeting of conservative activists in Washington, D.C.
When these videos first broke, you and I talked on the phone briefly, but since then it’s been tough to get to you. Has your life been crazy? It’s been a little bit like drinking from a fire hose, definitely.
Have you felt under siege, or have you been able to pick and choose what you do? I would just say that we’ve been fighting them on the beaches and on the landing grounds, as Winston Churchill would say. I think we hit the ground running back in the middle of July with the first video. Then for 10 weeks straight after that, every single week there was a new video out. I was doing work with our editing team on the video production every single day in between releases, basically from Tuesday to Tuesday, for 10 weeks.
There’s always new twists and turns that the narrative takes based on what Planned Parenthood says or what their next excuse is that they raise in a given week. There’s been plenty of action both in Congress and in the states, so there’s always another fire to run to.
To do this work, you had to go off the internet grid so that if they did some checking up on you, they wouldn’t find your pro-life activism. Have you really been about this work for close to a decade? I have about eight or nine years of experience total at this point doing undercover, investigative journalism-type, pro-life work. Definitely for this project for about 2 1/2 years I was giving a very low profile. There were no new pictures of me on Facebook or anything for a good 2 1/2 years. That’s really a small price to pay and a really small sacrifice in comparison to the work that you’re doing. If that’s what you’re really passionate about, then it’s easy. It doesn’t feel like a sacrifice.
Do you feel like it’s been worth it? Have you gotten the kind of results that you had hoped for whenever you started doing this a couple of years ago? Totally. I’ve been so blown away by the response from the public, both the outrage and also the really strong motivation that people seem to have on a grassroots level for abortion policy to change in our country, for Planned Parenthood to be held accountable for their crimes, and for the way that they misuse taxpayer funding and use taxpayer money to run their late-term abortion business and baby parts practices.
It’s been incredible, the public reaction so far. I think that this has made a huge dent and had a huge impact in the whole national discourse about how we talk about abortion and how we talk about unborn children. That is a huge, huge victory in and of itself. Planned Parenthood [is] now on the defense, having to announce policy changes and backpedaling on what they’ve been saying for three months now because they know that this is not popular with the public and that the longer that they continue to behave this way, the more the public opinion is going to sour on them and is going to want something to change.
There’s more work to be done. Not a single red cent should go to Planned Parenthood for their baby parts and late-term abortion business, and they need to be held accountable to the full extent of the law. They should be prosecuted, and they should be indicted in every jurisdiction where they’re doing this.
So far, though, Planned Parenthood is proceeding more or less unabated. It’s still getting government money. The federal government just recently approved yet more funding for Planned Parenthood. At what point will you know whether you met your goals? I think that a lot of the story still has yet to be written, right? It’s certainly not easy because Planned Parenthood receives over half a billion dollars in taxpayer funding every year, and millions of those taxpayer dollars they turn around and funnel into political candidates and political cronies that are basically bought and paid for by Planned Parenthood. They have those people in the White House. They have those people in the judicial circuits, and they have those people in the legislatures. So it’s definitely an uphill battle when the money is going in and going out. It’s this vicious cycle of further insulating and insulating and locking down benefits and subsidies for Planned Parenthood.
I think something is definitely changing with the way that people understand Planned Parenthood and understand abortion and the way that we talk about it. The final victory is yet to come, and I think that we all just have to stay the course. I think the days of state-subsidized, state-promoted abortion-on-demand led by Planned Parenthood … are numbered.
Have you, during this process, ever felt concern for your safety? You know, the entire process was absolutely worth it from beginning to end, and I don’t think that I would trade any part of it. This is something that I gave myself over to as a sacrifice and as an offering, and I made that freely and I was happy to make it. I’ve not been too concerned for my physical safety. Probably the most disturbing thing that happened recently was that a Planned Parenthood-hired private investigator did show up literally on my doorstep. She was waiting for me as I was walking home one evening, so we reported it to the police, and I told her to go away and she finally did. I think that it’s not your average everyday, but it could be a lot worse. I’m thankful for the opportunity that I’ve been given, and I just want to keep doing a good job with it.
It’s unlikely that you are going to have much of a career now as an undercover videographer. I mean, probably every Planned Parenthood facility in America, if not on the planet, has your picture hanging up somewhere saying, “Don’t talk to this guy.” What do you do next? At the end of the day, Planned Parenthood can’t build their walls high enough. So long as they’re committing abortions and so long as they’re engaged in corrupt activities funded by taxpayers, there are people who are going to look into them and hold them accountable. There are people who are going to go digging for the dirt that they are spreading around like a steam shovel.
I’m really concerned right now about continuing to follow down all the different rabbit trails and all the different initiatives that have sprung off of this current project, making sure that those are all successful and being faithful to that work that’s already begun. We’ll see how that goes over the next year or so. After that point, we can take a step back, reassess, see what was won and how big the victories were and what’s different because of that and then make a better decision as to what’s the next best thing to do.
Listen to Warren Smith’s full conversation with David Daleiden on Listening In.
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