After months of investigation, a Houston, Texas grand jury has cleared Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast of wrongdoing—instead indicting the two anti-abortion activists who orchestrated last summer’s undercover videos that purported to show evidence of illegal fetal tissue donation practices.
On Monday, ABC13 reports, the Harris County grand jury indicted the Center for Medical Progress’s David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt for tampering with a governmental record, which is a felony. Daleiden earned a further charge of violating a ban on the purchase and sale of human organs—the exact law he was trying to prove that Planned Parenthood broke.
Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick initiated the probe in August 2015, commending the Center for Medical Progress’s alleged exposure of “the gruesome and barbaric work of Planned Parenthood and what appears to be its profiteering from selling body parts from aborted babies.” After watching the undercover videos, he asked Harris County district attorney Devon Anderson to launch a criminal investigation against Planned Parenthood.
“We were called upon to investigate allegations of criminal conduct by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast,” Anderson said in a statement. “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.”
This is a promising development for Planned Parenthood, which filed a lengthy lawsuit against Daleiden, Merritt, and their cohorts earlier this month, alleging that they secretly filmed Planned Parenthood staff, obtained fake I.D.s and credit cards, registered a fake tissue procurement company, and stole the identity of one of Daleiden’s high school classmates to carry out their sting operations.
“I want to assure everyone in Houston that I will use every resource allocated to this office to conduct a thorough investigation,” Anderson said at the start of the Harris County probe. “Should we find that laws were broken, we will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.” Thanks to the publicity Daleiden and his acolytes have earned, there are a lot of reproductive-rights supporters out there popping popcorn right now, rooting for Anderson to keep her promise.