Daleiden says he is the "child of a crisis pregnancy" and grew up "culturally Catholic." His mother, Gina Surkala Daleiden, served for 9 years as a trustee on the Davis School Board and is the executive director of First 5 Yolo, a state taxpayer funded early childhood development program.
Daleiden graduated from Davis High School in 2007 and later from Claremont McKenna College.
In 2015, Daleiden released videos showing Planned Parenthood officials discussing fees for human fetal tissue and organs. Daleiden, an associate of Lila Rose, ran a Live Action chapter in 2007 and was the organization’s director of research "during the early stages" of the project to make secret recordings of Planned Parenthood clinics. He originally registered his Center for Medical Progress as a tax-exempt biomedical charity. In furtherance of his plan, he set up a sham biomedical research company called Biomax Procurement Services. Daleiden and his co-conspirator, Sandra Merritt, posed as employees of Biomax and orchestrated surreptitious recordings of interviews where his associates asked about tissue donation costs, and questioned whether tissue samples could be acquired from African American patients with sickle-cell anemia. After its real activities were exposed, Daleiden re-registered his Center for Medical Progress as a journalistic organization.
Planned Parenthood asserts that they may donate fetal tissue at the request of a patient, but such tissue is never sold. According to Molly Redden of The Guardian, the content of the videos were "broadly considered to be false, the product of aggressive and misleading editing." The videos themselves, and transcripts of the full-length raw footage, can be seen at CMP's web site (see External Links section).
The videos were shown to Republican Congressmen Trent Franks and Tim Murphy two weeks before being made publicly available, leading commentators to note that the timing of the release appeared to coincide with a bipartisan bill to raise money for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
On July 31, 2015, the National Abortion Federation sued CMP and Daleiden, alleging that Daleiden's campaign violated its members' privacy and threatened their safety.
On January 22, 2016, Daleiden appeared on C-SPAN for a question-and-answer session that included viewer call-ins. He advocated reverting current laws back to the time when all elective abortions were criminal acts. The segment's opposing view was presented by NARAL Pro-Choice America policy director Donna Crane.
On January 25, 2016, a grand jury in Harris County, Texas, that originally had investigated the Gulf Coast chapter of Planned Parenthood indicted Daleiden on a felony count of tampering with governmental records by making and using a fake driver's license, and a misdemeanor charge for emailing an offer to buy fetal tissue for $1,600.
Daleiden turned himself in on February 4, 2016, and appeared in court after posting $3,000 bond. He could have faced a prison sentence of up to 22 years if convicted, according to The Washington Post. He reportedly rejected a plea deal in the case.
The misdemeanor charge of offering to buy fetal tissue was dismissed on June 13, 2016, because of a defect in the indictment. The felony charge regarding the alleged use of a false driver license was pending in another court in Harris County. On July 26, 2016, Texas District Judge Brock Thomas dismissed the felony charges at the request of Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson.
On March 28, 2017, California Attorney General Xavier Becerra filed 15 felony charges against Daleiden, alleging that he and associate Sandra Susan Merritt were guilty of conspiring to pose as BioMax employees in order to intentionally record confidential communications between themselves and Planned Parenthood employees in Century City (Los Angeles), Pasadena (Los Angeles), El Dorado (El Dorado), and San Francisco. On June 21, 2017, Superior Court Judge Christopher Hite dismissed fourteen of the charges, with leave to amend, on the grounds that they were legally insufficient because they did not include details such as the names of the alleged victims and the locations and dates of the videoed events. "Leave to amend" means that the prosecutors were allowed the option to re-file the charges with more details; the prosecutors did so some time during the week of July 3rd, and all fifteen felony charges against Daleiden and Merritt are active again.
As part of the National Abortion Federation's lawsuit against Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress, Federal Judge William Orrick III and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued an injunction forbidding Daleiden and CMP from publishing any more videos they had illegally obtained at private professional meetings. However, new videos then appeared on the website of Daleiden's attorney, former Los Angeles County District Attorney, Steve Cooley. Judge Orrick ordered Daleiden, and his attorneys, Cooley and Brentford J. Ferreira to appear at a June 14 hearing to consider contempt sanctions. On July 11, 2017 Judge Orrick found attorneys Cooley and Ferreira in contempt of court saying, “With respect to the criminal defense counsel, they do not get to decide whether they can violate the preliminary injunction”.
On July 17, Judge Orrick found Daleiden, the Center for Medical Progress and their lawyers, Steve Cooley and Brentford Ferreira in contempt of court. Judge Orrick ordered Mr. Daleiden to turn over video footage and other materials related to his 2016 preliminary injunction.
On August 31, Judge Orrick found Daleiden and his attorneys, Steve Cooley and Brentford Ferreira, liable for the payment of $195,359 to compensate the National Abortion Federation for legal fees and increased security for “expenses incurred as a result of the violation of my Preliminary Injunction Order”. Judge Orrick wrote that Mr. Daleiden’s attorneys, Cooley and Ferreira, were included in the sanctions intended to ensure “current and future compliance” with his order.