Texas jury indicts pro-life activists over Planned Parenthood videos

by Joni B. Hannigan, Editorial Staff |
A sign is pictured at the entrance to a Planned Parenthood building in New York August 31, 2015. | REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

AUSTIN, Texas (Christian Examiner) — In an abrupt turn of events, a grand jury in Harris County Texas has indicted pro-life activist David Daleiden, the man behind videos revealing what he said have been attempts by Planned Parenthood to traffic aborted baby body parts — with similar charges.

The grand jury today found no wrongdoing on the part of Planned Parenthood, according to a district attorney, but instead has charged Daleiden with the purchase and sale of human organs, a misdemeanor, and with tampering with a governmental record. One of Daleiden's associates, Sandra Merritt, was also charged with tampering with a governmental record.

Houston's ABC News reported Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson did not provide details on the charges, but said they would be forthcoming later tonight.

"We were called upon to investigate allegations of criminal conduct by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast," a statement from Anderson was reported to say. "As I stated at the outset of this investigation, we must go where the evidence leads us."

Last year, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican who accused Planned Parenthood of the "gruesome harvesting of baby parts," began an investigation of Texas Planned Parenthood clinics.

Abbott today released a statement on the Planned Parenthood investigation in Harris County.

"The Health and Human Service Commission's Inspector General and the Attorney General's office have an ongoing investigation into Planned Parenthood's actions," said Abbott. "Nothing about today's announcement in Harris County impacts the state's ongoing investigation. The State of Texas will continue to protect life, and I will continue to support legislation prohibiting the sale or transfer of fetal tissue."

The Harris County District Attorney's office said the grand jury took no action against Planned Parenhood after an investigation by its office, the Texas Rangers, and the Houston Police Department came up empty. 

Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider, has denied wrongdoing. They claim conversations by their executives shown in multiple videos produced by Daleiden's Center for Medical Progress which appear to show them discussing the sale of harvested fetal body parts, are misunderstood. They have said the accusations they are attempting to sell trafficked organs are politically motivated.

Further, Planned Parenthood has charged the investigation is politically motivated.

Days after the charges were made about the investigation in August, 2015, Anderson said she learned Assistant District Attorny Lauren Reeder has been a board member of the Gulf Coast Planned Parenthood's board of directors since 2013. In an article in the Houston Chronicle, Anderson said Reeder had voluntarily disclosed the information.

According to Reeder's LinkedIn page, she also is a member and former co-chair of Planned Parenthood Young Leaders since 2009 — a donor and fundraising group of Planned Parenthood members ranging from 20-40 year olds who are professionals in the Houston area.

In a statement earlier this year, The Center for Media Progress defended its practices as "investigative journalism" and called at least one of the lawsuits that have been filed against it "frivolous."

The statement on its website reads:

"Planned Parenthood is under investigation by the United States Congress and multiple law enforcement agencies, while their business is drying up and the public is turning against their barbaric abortion for baby parts trade. Now they are filing a frivolous lawsuit in retaliation for CMP's First Amendment investigative journalism that has done nothing more than tell the truth about Planned Parenthood's lawless operations. This last-ditch move of desperation is going to expose all of the sordid dealings of the California Planned Parenthood affiliates to the light of the legal system and the public will see them for the corrupt abortion and baby body parts profiteers that they really are."