As we explored in our recent report on the Center for Medical Progress’ attacks on Planned Parenthood, CMP founder David Daleiden worked in concert with a few longtime anti-choice activists in his effort to claim that Planned Parenthood violated federal laws with its fetal tissue donation program. One of those activists was Mark Crutcher, who through his Texas-based group Life Dynamics, conducted a very similar undercover video “sting” of fetal tissue donation practices in the late 1990s, with a similar goal of undermining legal abortion.
Crutcher’s claims fell apart when his key witness admitted at a congressional hearing that he had lied about witnessing “profiteering by fetal-tissue providers.” The Omaha World-Herald reported at the time:
[U]nder questioning from the committee, Alberty admitted that he had lied in previous statements made to Life Dynamics, an anti-abortion group in Texas. In a videotape produced by Life Dynamics, a disguised Alberty charged that he had witnessed profiteering by fetal-tissue providers, among a number of charges he later denied in a sworn affidavit.
Alberty also admitted receiving more than $10,000 from Life Dynamics.
On Thursday, Alberty contradicted himself repeatedly, at one point telling the committee he didn't remember if he had put on a dress to disguise himself in the Life Dynamics video.
"When I was under oath, I told the truth," Alberty told the committee. "Anything I said on a videotape when I wasn't under oath is a different story."
Another focus of Life Dynamics’ “investigation” was a middle-man whom they said profited from fetal tissue after obtaining it from a Planned Parenthood facility in Kansas. Planned Parenthood was never implicated in any wrongdoing, and federal prosecutors never found evidence to bring charges against the man Life Dynamics had targeted.
In an in-depth interview with the “Catholic Answers Focus” podcast last week, Daleiden recalled that in 2010 he had a “very detailed” three-hour conversation with Crutcher about this failed sting operation, from which he came away determined to copy Crutcher’s actions, only this time he would be better prepared to confront the “enemy” of Planned Parenthood.
“I felt like it deserves to have a very detailed and sophisticated exposé done about it again, and done in a way that would go even farther than what was done before and do it in a way that wouldn’t allow it to just be ignored or swept under the rug,” he said, “so that was the original inspiration.”
“So I think that Mark Crutcher did groundbreaking work and I think that it was a great victory just for him to get the information out that he did,” Daleiden said. “But I think definitely you always want to learn from how something was done before and if, I wouldn’t say so much mistakes, but just areas where the enemy pushed back really hard and kind of what the best tactics of the enemy were, and wanting to make sure we could learn from the past and have a way to neutralize those in the future.”
He added that as well as learning about “the best tactics of the enemy,” he decided to focus on Planned Parenthood “so that nobody could deny that this was a Planned Parenthood problem and so Planned Parenthood would have to be held to account for their actions.”
Cheryl Sullenger, a top official at Operation Rescue, another extreme anti-choice group that Daleiden turned to for help, has said that Daleiden came into the project sharing “our vision for obtaining criminal prosecutions” of Planned Parenthood officials in order to “bring an end” to “the abortion industry in America.”
Six states have so far closed investigations into Daleiden’s claims, finding no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood.