Two abortion foes behind planned parenthood videos indicted
In the first of its kind, a Harris county grand jury has indicted the videographers who made undercover videos of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Houston and cleared the women’s health provider of any wrongdoings while investigating accusations of misconduct against the organization.
David Daleidan and Sandra Merritt, two anti-abortion activists at the Center for Medical Progress alleged Planned Parenthood of making illegal profits out of selling fetal tissue. The investigations at Planned Parenthood began when videos regarding their obtaining of fetal tissue for medical research went viral. The two foes, then, obtained fake California drivers’ licenses and posing themselves as research executives with Biomax Procurement Services, a shell company created by Daleiden's Center for Medical Progress, entered the facility in April 2015 under the guise of discussing tissue research with their clinic research staff.
The undercover video was released in August 2015 that exhibited the two foes and the Planned Parenthood staff discussing administrative costs of harvesting fetal organs at various stages of gestation.
Devon Anderson, District Attorney at Harris County then launched a criminal investigation into Planned Parenthood at the urging of state leaders. The evidences uncovered during the investigation were then presented to the grand jury.
The jury charged the videographers for tampering with a governmental record, a second-degree felony that carries a punishment of up to 20 years in prison. Daleiden was charged for ‘prohibition of the purchase and sale of human organs’ which is a class ‘A’ misdemeanor carrying punishment of up to a year in jail. On the other hand, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast in Houston was cleared of breaking any laws.
Another inquiry was launched by the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton that shall continue in order to protect life and support the legislation prohibiting sale or transfer of fetal tissue.
Responding to the above inquiry, Paxton has stated that the inquiry is necessary since it exposes the horrific nature of abortion and the shameful disregard for human life of the abortion industry. Although, sale of fetal tissue is illegal, through the patient’s consent, abortion clinics can donate fetal tissue for use in medical research. In such scenarios, clinics are to be reimbursed for costs associated with the transportation, implantation, processing preservation, quality control, or storage of human fetal tissue for research purposes. Planned Parenthood health centers in Texas currently do not donate fetal tissues for medical research. The next hearing is scheduled for March 28th.
In another case against the same videographers, Judge William H. Orrick of United States District Court in San Francisco issued a preliminary injunction ordering the anti-abortion group to not release videos made secretly by them at meetings of abortion providers. He also added that the opponents’ claims regarding use of fraudulent documents and violations of confidentiality agreements being protected since they were journalists and performing an undercover investigation, were also brushed aside marking a second major setback in the recent weeks for them. [See Nat'l Abortion Fed'n v. Ctr. for Med. Progress, Case No. 15-cv-03522-WHO, 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14485].