Texas Grand Jury Investigating Planned Parenthood Instead Indicts Filmmakers

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Credit: Charles Ommanney/The Washington Post

Credit: Charles Ommanney/The Washington Post

Two people connected to making what turned out to be highly edited videos of a Planned Parenthood executive claiming the healthcare provider sold fetal baby parts for profit have been indicted by a Texas grand jury, the Houston Chronicle reported Monday night. It’s an ironic twist in the case where the grand jury was initially tasked to investigate Planned Parenthood.

The Harris County district attorney’s office on Monday indicted anti-abortion activists David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, both of whom broke several laws by creating the fake videos that accused the women’s healthcare provider of illegally selling fetal baby parts from its clinics. The grand jury cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrong-doing.

From the Houston Chronicle:

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“Secret videographers David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt were both indicted on charges of tampering with a governmental record, a second-degree felony that carries a punishment of up to 20 years in prison. Daleiden received an additional misdemeanor indictment under the law prohibiting the purchase and sale of human organs.

“We were called upon to investigate allegations of criminal conduct by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast,” [said Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson, a Republican]. “As I stated at the outset of this investigation, we must go where the evidence leads us. All the evidence uncovered in the course of this investigation was presented to the grand jury. I respect their decision on this difficult case.”

Last year, the Center for Medical Progress, a well-known anti-abortion group run by Daleiden, released several videos of Planned Parenthood executives discussing the methods and costs of preserving fetal tissue for scientific research. By law, the organization cannot make a profit on donating the parts. The release of the doctored videos caused an uproar from anti-abortion activists across the country that prompted numerous state investigations into local PP clinics.

Source: The Federalist

Source: The Federalist

Executives at PP furiously denied the claims and pointed out the videos were highly edited and thoroughly flawed. Monday’s decision seems to have bolstered the organization’s claims that it had done nothing illegal.

A spokeswoman for the Houston branch of PP told the Chronicle they felt “vindicated” after the grand jury’s announcement.

“It’s great news because it demonstrates what we have said from the very beginning, which is that Planned Parenthood is following every rule and regulation, and that these people came into our buildings under the guise of health when their true intentions were to spread lies,” said the spokeswoman, Rochelle Tafolla. “We’re glad that these extremists have been indicted for breaking the law.”

The charges from the grand jury for Daleiden and Merritt may land them hefty jail sentences. From the Chronicle:

“The organization alleged that Daleiden and others used aliases, obtained fake government I.D.s, and formed a fake tissue procurement company in an effort to gain access to private areas and record private conversations to be deceptively edited to create a false impression.

“The second indictment for Daleiden suggests that the grand jury found that he went too far in trying to get Planned Parenthood to admit to selling tissue. The crime, a class A misdemeanor is committed if a person intentionally offers to buy or offers to sell a human organ, including fetal tissue. If convicted, the maximum punishment is a year in jail.”

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