A Texas district attorney just pulled off a lawyer’s version of a bait-and-switch in Houston, but hopefully when all is said and done he’ll be the one in hot water and the real guilty party in the case will have to answer for what they’ve (allegedly) done.
As reported by the Houston Chronicle, a grand jury was initially convened in Harris County to decide whether a local Planned Parenthood clinic had illegally sold the organs of aborted babies. But in recent days, the grand jury cleared the clinic and instead brought charges against a pair of undercover videographers who got PP officials on camera essentially haggling for higher body part fees.
The decision to instead indict videographers David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, both from California and both who are associated with the Center for Medical Progress, surprised Houston-area officials who called for the grand jury investigation while simultaneously pleasing Planned Parenthood defenders.
The Chronicle noted that the pair now face charges of tampering with a governmental record, a second-degree felony that carries a potential sentence of up to 20 years in prison. In addition, the grand jury charged Daleiden, leader of the undercover effort, with the same misdemeanor that he alleged the Planned Parenthood officials had done – engaged in the purchase or sale of human organs, since he and Merritt had posed as employees of a research firm that was in the market for fetal tissue.
Now, a number of legal analysts looking at that grand jury indictment are scratching their heads wondering how could a pair of videographers who have visual evidence of Planned Parenthood officials haggling on price over the sale of body parts not be charged with the same crime. The question becomes: If the undercover team is possibly guilty of buying human organs, aren’t Planned Parenthood negotiators possibly guilty of selling those organs?
“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,” Daleiden said in a statement following the indictment.
“We respect the processes of the Harris County District Attorney, and note that buying fetal tissue requires a seller as well,” he continued. “Planned Parenthood still cannot deny the admissions from their leadership about fetal organ sales captured on video for all the world to see.”
Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson announced the indictments in a statement, adding that the probe had gone on longer than two months.
“As I stated at the outset of this investigation, we must go where the evidence leads us,” said Anderson, a Republican. “All the evidence uncovered in the course of this investigation was presented to the grand jury. I respect their decision on this difficult case.”
The investigation in Harris County was one of a number of them around the state following the CMP’s release of a series of undercover videos, several of them depicting various Planned Parenthood officials discussing prices for fetal tissue and organs, as well as how their physicians were able to secure the best samples.
Leaders in Texas vowed that investigations would continue. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who initially called for the Harris County investigation, also directed a Senate committee to look into the matter, which is still continuing.
Gov. Greg Abbott and his attorney general, Ken Paxton, both of whom were upset about what the videos appeared to contain, also ordered investigations. Following the Harris County announcement, they said those probes are ongoing.
“The fact remains that the videos exposed the horrific nature of abortion and the shameful disregard for human life of the abortion industry,” Paxton said.
Any person giving an honest viewing of the dozen or so videos – which are edited for brevity, but not for content – would conclude that what Planned Parenthood was doing was indeed negotiating for higher prices, with one of them even chuckling about wanting an expensive car, a Lamborghini (around 7:55 in this video).