An employee of the hospital where Ms. Daniels was being treated urged Ms. Stelly to call Mr. Benton and Mr. Johnson for help, advising that they were “Christians, both of them, and they are so against abortion clinics,” Ms. Stelly recalled in an interview. The lawyers soon drove to the hospital to see her, and later took her to church and arranged for her speak at a political rally.
“The lawyers came into my life and things changed a lot,” she said.
Within weeks of filing the case, Mr. Johnson arranged for Ms. Daniels and Ms. Stelly to be interviewed on Baton Rouge’s Channel 9, their identities concealed, as in the Delta lawsuit. Louisiana’s state capital was a small world: The reporter, Julie Baxter, had once worked with Mr. Perkins during his television career. A clinic worker who saw the broadcast subsequently contacted the Benton firm, according to Ms. Stelly.
“She was going to quit right then,” Ms. Stelly recalled, but the lawyers “asked her not to quit right this minute.” Instead, the worker let Ms. Baxter and a photographer into Delta after hours. In a bombshell follow-up segment, Ms. Baxter aired grainy pictures from inside Delta: filthy surgical hoses, rusted dilators, a recovery room stained with dried blood.
Though Ms. Daniels was not identified in the Delta lawsuit, which remains under seal, video posted online indicates that she later participated in follow-up interview with Ms. Baxter that named her and showed her face; the hospital lawsuit was also filed under Ms. Daniels’s real name. Efforts to reach her were unsuccessful.
Ms. Baxter, who now goes by Julie Baxter Payer, said she was “following the facts as they were.” She added, “The whole issue was, how do you regulate abortions without creating an impediment to women seeking abortions?”