Health & Science

Update: Anti-Abortion Activist Posts Bond, Offered Pretrial Diversion

Sandra Merritt and David Daleiden face felony charges in Houston. They are accused of visiting Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast under false pretenses to produce videos to damage the organization.


Sandra Merritt faces a felony charge of tampering with a government document, because she used a fake drivers license to get inside the Houston Planned Parenthood.

Wednesday morning she posted a $2,000 bond and made an initial appearance in the courtroom of Judge Brock Thomas.

The district attorney’s office is offering Merritt pretrial diversion, which means the charge could eventually be dismissed if she complied with a number of conditions.

Merritt’s lead lawyer Dan Cogdell, did not say whether or not she would accept that offer, or ask for a trial.

Cogdell, a well-known Houston attorney, is also defending Texas General Attorney Ken Paxton against a securities charge.

Outside the courthouse Merritt did not speak, but Cogdell did and he said the charges are “dumber than a bucket of hair.”


Earlier version from Feb. 2

An anti-abortion activist from California is expected to turn herself in Wednesday in Houston to face a felony charge related to undercover videos made at Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast.

Dan Cogdell, an attorney for Sandra Merritt, says he is set to appear with his client before Judge Brock Thomas at the Harris County Criminal Court building in downtown Houston.

Merritt and her associate David Daleiden both face a felony charge for allegedly using fake driver's licenses to gain access to the Planned Parenthood affiliate off the Gulf Freeway in Houston. They posed as representatives of a fake research company, BioMax, but later used the undercover footage to claim Planned Parenthood sold fetal tissue for research.

Daleiden also faces a misdemeanor related to his offer to purchase human organs. He is expected to turn himself in Thursday morning.

Anti-abortion groups plan to rally outside the criminal courthouse on both days.

Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson convened a grand jury to investigate the case after the videos surfaced last summer. Merritt and Daleiden went undercover to produce the videos.

The grand jury decided not to take any action against Planned Parenthood in Houston. But Merritt and Daleiden have been indicted.

Daleiden has previously said he "uses the same undercover techniques" as investigative journalists and follows all applicable laws.

Officials with the state of Texas say their investigation into Planned Parenthood continues.

Subscribe to Today in Houston

Fill out the form below to subscribe our new daily editorial newsletter from the HPM Newsroom.

* required