A Harris County grand jury decided Monday not to take any action against Planned Parenthood in Houston. But two people who used undercover videos accusing the group of selling fetal tissue have been indicted.
The sting videos recorded last April alleged that Planned Parenthood illegally profited from donations of fetal tissue. The Harris County District Attorney’s Office investigated those allegations for more than two months, along with the Texas Rangers and the Houston Police Department.
In the end, a grand jury has cleared Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast of breaking the law.
“It affirms 100% what we have said from the very beginning, and that is that Planned Parenthood follows local, state and federals laws and extremely high medical standards, and our first priority is patient care,” said Rochelle Tafolla, with Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast. “These individuals broke the law and committed fraud in order to spread lies about Planned Parenthood and today they’re going to be held accountable for breaking those laws.”
Both David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt have been indicted for Tampering with a Governmental Record, which is a felony. Daleidan was also indicted for Prohibition of the Purchase and Sale of Human Organs, meaning he illegally offered to purchase human organs in the video recording. A violation of this section is a Class A misdemeanor.
“We were called upon to investigate allegations of criminal conduct by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast,” said Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson in a written statement. “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.”
Daleiden released a statement saying his group “uses the same undercover techniques” as investigative journalists and follows all applicable laws, the Associated Press reported.
“We respect the processes of the Harris County District Attorney, and note that buying fetal tissue requires a seller as well,” he told the news organization.
The Planned Parenthood Federation of American, along with seven of its California-based affiliates, filed a federal lawsuit on January 15 over the undercover operation by the Center for Medical Progress.
The Center for Medical Progress has been tied to the defendants accused of producing these videos. They have not yet returned our call seeking comment on the indictments.
Late Monday, Texas Governor Greg Abbott released the following statement on the Planned Parenthood investigation:
“The Health and Human Service Commission’s Inspector General and the Attorney General’s office have an ongoing investigation into Planned Parenthood’s actions. 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.”
And Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced that the state’s investigation is continuing:
“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.”
Read Planned Parenthood’s lawsuit against the Center for Medical Progress filed in federal court in California.