Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Texas County Grand Jury Clears Planned Parenthood, Indicts Sting Videographers

Houston Chronicle and the New York Times report that a Harris County, Texas grand jury that was investigating a Planned Parenthood clinic in Houston has cleared the clinic of charges of illegal conduct and instead indicted two of the anti-abortion activists involved in making widely publicized, highly-edited videos involving the clinic. (Press release by Harris County District Attorney.)  Yesterday the grand jury handed down no indictments against Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast that had been charged by the anti-abortion group Center For Medical Progress with illegal sale of fetal tissue to researchers. However it indicted undercover videographers David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt on charges of tampering with a governmental record.  Apparently these charges stem from their use of false government identifications (false documents resembling California drivers' licenses) to obtain access to private areas and record private conversations.  Daleiden was also charged on a misdemeanor count under the law prohibiting the purchase and sale of human organs.  Apparently the grand jury found that he likely crossed the line into offering to buy fetal tissue in his efforts to get Planned Parenthood personnel to admit to selling fetal tissue.

Daleiden said that they were merely using the same techniques that investigative journalists have typically used.  In a statement reacting to the grand jury's action, Texas governor Greg Abbott said:
The Health and Human Service Commission’s Inspector General and the Attorney General’s office have an ongoing investigation into Planned Parenthood’s actions. Nothing about today’s announcement in Harris County impacts the state’s ongoing investigation. The State of Texas will continue to protect life, and I will continue to support legislation prohibiting the sale or transfer of fetal tissue.
Earlier this month, Planned Parenthood filed a civil RICO action against Center for Medical Progress. (See prior posting.) [Updated]