The irony was lost on no one late yesterday when a Texas grand jury — initially impaneled to investigate Planned Parenthood — handed down indictments instead of two individuals responsible for undercover videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood officials illegally trafficking in fetal tissue.
Here’s more from Ross Ramsey at the Texas Tribune:
Some people thought — hoped might be a better word — that Houston-based Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast would be charged with illegally trafficking organs and tissue of aborted fetuses. That followed sensational coverage of videos that purported to catch those officials talking in detail about those kinds of transactions.
The secretly recorded footage was collected by anti-abortion activists who presented themselves as potential buyers. They released their videos last year, reaping a whirlwind of news coverage and political attention for their sensational charges and their covert methods. Planned Parenthood was set reeling. Jubilant politicians and activists called on police and prosecutors to investigate and, if possible, to file charges.
That was the setup, and a phalanx of law enforcers got to work, including the Texas Rangers, Houston police and the Harris County district attorney’s office. A grand jury worked for more than two months, according to the DA’s office, and came up with no criminal charges against Planned Parenthood. Instead, they found the crime was in back of the cameras and not in front, charging David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt with tampering with a government record — a second-degree felony. Daleiden faces an additional Class A misdemeanor indictment for prohibition of the purchase and sale of human organs.
“We were called upon to investigate allegations of criminal conduct by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast,” said District Attorney Devon Anderson, a Republican. “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.”
Other states, including Florida, Indiana, Missouri and Washington, had likewise opened similar investigations that ultimately cleared Planned Parenthood.
The organization, for its part, filed a federal civil racketeering lawsuit in mid-January against Daleiden, Merritt, their organization, the Center for Medical Progress, and others, contending that they launched an anti-abortion smear campaign with edited videos and false accusations about fetal tissue donation practices. That lawsuit is pending in San Francisco.