UPDATE, OCT. 12, 12:31 P.M.: A complaint for violations of unlawful, unfair and fraudulent business practices by DaVinci Biosciences and DV Biologics was filed in Orange County Superior Court today by District Attorney Tony Rackauckas. The action seeks to stop the companies from selling fetal tissue and cells, make them pay restitution to those harmed (to be determined at trial) and to pay any other civil penalties a court imposes, Rackauckas said at a press conference today.
"This case is not about whether it should be lawful to sell fetal parts or whether fetal tissue research is ethical or legal,” he said. “We are simply charging DV Biologics, DaVinci Biosciences, and a father and his two sons with illegally selling hundreds of fetal tissue products for profit and treating human parts as commodities instead of giving it the respect the law intended. This lawsuit is aimed at taking the profit out of selling body parts.”
Andres, Estefano and Luis Isaias of Miami are listed in online documents as owners of DaVinci Biosciences. Andres and Luis Isaias are principals of DV Biologics, which both started in Costa Mesa and later moved to Yorba Linda. Both companies share office space, management and employees. Andres and Estefano Isaias are charged under state Business and Professions Code section 17200 in the OCDA complaint. None of the Isaiases could be reached for comment.
State and federal law prevents selling or profiting off of bodily tissues, but in 2009 DaVinci Biosciences started selling products derived from the cells and tissues they were collecting, processing, storing and using for research purposes, and DV Biologics began marketing the revenue-generating services, according to the complaint.
The two companies advertised prices: as low as $40 a vial for the "total RNA" [ribonucleic acid] cells from several fetal tissue sources to as high as $1,100 a vial for specific cells derived from fetal brain tissue; from $300 to $375 a vial for fetal lung derived products; $300-$450 a vial for fetal kidney derived products; $500-$700 a vial for fetal heart derived products; and $250-$700 a vial for fetal liver derived products, the OCDA alleges.
Between 2009 and 2011, the companies nearly tripled sales revenues and by the end of 2011 they unlawfully sold fetal-derived tissues and cells harvested in the U.S. to Japan, China, Singapore, Korea, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Australia, Netherlands, Canada and the United Kingdom, according to the complaint, which adds that by 2012, they had more than 500 products in their inventory that they valued at more than $4.4 million.
The California Franchise Tax Board forfeited DaVinci Biosciences and DV Biologics' powers, rights and privileges in July 2015 and November 2014, respectively, prosecutors note.
Company scientists still travel the world to participate in medical conferences and discuss research made possible by human tissue and stem cells.
While T-Rack may have been loathe to bring politics into his case, Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List nonprofit, had no such qualms.
“This suit vindicates the brave whistleblowers of the Center for Medical Progress and every pro-life American who demanded the nation’s largest abortion business, Planned Parenthood, and their partners in the harvest and sale of baby body parts be held accountable,” Dannenfelser says. “DaVinci Biosciences and DV Biologics could not have profited off of the sale of babies’ hearts, livers, brains, and more if Planned Parenthood had not supplied them. Further, the Center for Medical Progress alleges that Planned Parenthood also profited from the sale of fetal organs in the form of donations made back to the abortion provider from DaVinci Biosciences.”
David Daleiden, founder of the Irvine-based anti-abortion group Center of Medical Progress and creator of controversial undercover videos that seven months ago connected DaVinci Biosciences, DV Biologics and Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties, today writes on his blog:
The wheels of justice are beginning to turn against Planned Parenthood and their corrupt business partners in the illicit trade in aborted baby body parts. Planned Parenthood is not above the law, and law enforcement and elected representatives everywhere must now hold Planned Parenthood accountable for their barbaric profiteering off of pregnant women and the body parts of their aborted children.
However, Rackauckas said at his press conference there was no evidence that the companies exchanged money with Planned Parenthood, or that Planned Parenthood did anything unlawful.
ORIGINAL POST, OCT. 12, 9:28 A.M.: Seven months ago, the Irvine anti-abortion group known as the Center for Medical Progress distributed undercover video of a Planned Parenthood official talking about the sale of human tissue from aborted fetuses, and the names of an Orange County Planned Parenthood official and two local companies were mentioned.
This morning, the Orange County District Attorney's office is holding a press conference "to discuss charges against two sister companies for their role in the unlawful sale of fetal tissue for valuable consideration," the agency announced.
There are reports that the sister companies are the two Yorba Linda-based concerns mentioned in the undercover video: DaVinci Biosciences and DV Biologics.
No charges are mentioned against Planned Parenthood nor officials with the chapter that covers Orange and San Bernardino counties, which is based in Orange.
The OCDA states in a press release that it will have no comment about the charges before the 10 a.m. news conference, but the agency and District Attorney Tony Rackauckas are quoted in an Orange County Register post that was published at 11:25 last night confirming the names of there defendant companies and claiming the case is not about politics but violations of the law.
While fetal tissue and stem cells derived from the tissue have long been used in medical research in the United States, it is illegal under state and federal law for a company to profit from the sale of the tissue itself, although processing and shipping fees can be charged.
Two summers ago, the Center for Medical Progress unveiled undercover videos of Planned Parenthood officials around the country meeting with David Daleiden, founder of CMP, and others from the activist group posing as fetal tissue traders. Those videos have been used as ammunition by anti-abortion groups and politicians ever since.
But the making of those videos have also subjected Daleiden and others at CMP to police actions and court proceedings because they lied about their identities and affiliations. The organization's legal defenders claim CMP was practicing good, constitutionally protected undercover journalism.
Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood and others have accused CMP of doctoring the videos to put its officials in false lights. A lawsuit is pending against Daleiden and CMP.