By Dave Andrusko
With very little explanation, a Houston grand jury has indicted Center for Medical Progress leader David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, another CMP employee, on charges of tampering with a governmental record, a felony, and on a misdemeanor charge related to purchasing human organs.
CMP’s undercover videos recorded leading Planned Parenthood officials laughing and joking about and negotiating for the delivery of intact baby organs, including livers, hearts, lungs, kidneys, brains, and trachea. The ensuing outrage fueled congressional inquiries and a cancellation of Planned Parenthood funding in a number of states.
The CMP released a brief statement Monday, fully denying the allegations:
The Center for Medical Progress uses the same undercover techniques that investigative journalists have used for decades in exercising our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and of the press, and follows all applicable laws. We respect the processes of the Harris County District Attorney, and note that buying fetal tissue requires a seller as well. Planned Parenthood still cannot deny the admissions from their leadership about fetal organ sales captured on video for all the world to see.
The grand jury’s inquiry originally was into possible criminal conduct at Houston’s Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast and came at the request of Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick. According to Texas Right to Life, “The case centered around video footage captured by the Center for Medical Progress in which executives of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast candidly admitted (1) that they routinely deliver ‘intact fetal cadavers’ and (2) that selling these baby specimens was ‘all just a matter of line items.’”
But yesterday, the Harris County district attorney, Devon Anderson, said that grand jurors had cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing. “She declined to provide details about the case against Mr. Daleiden and Ms. Merritt, including any documents or evidence presented to the grand jury, citing state law on the secrecy of grand jury proceedings,” the New York Times’ Manny Fernandez reported.
“The record-tampering charges accused Mr. Daleiden and Ms. Merritt of making and presenting fake California driver’s licenses, with the intent to defraud, for their April meeting at Planned Parenthood in Houston,” according to Fernandez.
As Daleiden noted in the CMP statement, disguising one’s identity is standard for investigative reporters.
Gov. Greg Abbott noted that the state’s Health and Human Services Commission and the Texas attorney general’s office have been investigating Planned Parenthood’s actions.
“Nothing about today’s announcement in Harris County impacts the state’s ongoing investigation,” Mr. Abbott said in a statement. “The State of Texas will continue to protect life, and I will continue to support legislation prohibiting the sale or transfer of fetal tissue.”
Ken Paxton, the state’s attorney, said in a statement, “The fact remains that the videos exposed the horrific nature of abortion and the shameful disregard for human life of the abortion industry. The state’s investigation of Planned Parenthood is ongoing.”