Grand Jury Clears Planned Parenthood, Indicts 2 Who Made Sting Videos
Last summer, anti-abortion advocates thought they had a smoking gun when they secretly taped Planned Parenthood executives allegedly discussing the donation and sale of fetal tissue. Threats to defund Planned Parenthood were made, and a grand jury was convened to investigate whether the health services provider committed any crimes.
Well, the grand jury investigation is complete, only it didn't hand down the indictments those who made the videos probably expected. Planned Parenthood was cleared of any wrongdoing, and instead the Harris County grand jury indicted two of the people behind creating the videos.
Turning the Tables
David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt were both indicted on charges of tampering with a governmental record, which is a second-degree felony in Texas with a possible prison sentence of up to 20 years. Daleiden, the alleged ringleader of the videographers, was also charged with the purchase or sale of human organs. Ironically, this is the same crime he had alleged against Planned Parenthood, and his indictment is probably based on his offer to buy fetal tissue and organs in an attempt to entice Planned Parenthood staff into agreeing to sell.
Arrest warrants were issued for Daleiden and Merritt yesterday, though they deny committing any crimes.
Turnaround Is Fair Play?
These criminal charges aren't the only legal problems facing Daleiden and Merritt. Planned Parenthood is suing both in a federal court in California, claiming that the pair, along with several other "anti-abortion extremists" executed a "complex criminal enterprise" that involved "fake companies, fake identities and large-scale illegal taping" of Planned Parenthood employees.
Planned Parenthood alleges that Daleiden has secretly recorded staff and patients at least 65 times over the last eight years, and felt vindicated by the grand jury's investigation. Rochelle Tafolla, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, which runs the Houston clinic as well as facilities in Louisiana, told the Houston Chronicle, "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."
- Arizona's Anti Planned Parenthood Funding Law Blocked by Fed. Judge (FindLaw's Decided)
- Cal Court Halts Release of Planned Parenthood Fetal Tissue Videos (FindLaw's California Case Law)
- 100+ Women Lawyers Discuss Their Abortions in Supreme Court Brief (FindLaw's U.S. Supreme Court Blog)
- Planned Parenthood Takes Utah Funding Fight to 10th Cir. (FindLaw's U.S. Tenth Circuit Blog)
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