In a surprise turn, a grand jury in Texas that was convened to investigate allegations that Planned Parenthood illegally sold fetal tissue decided instead to indict activists who made sting videos to criticize the organization.
Beginning in July, anti-abortion activists David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt of the Center for Medical Progress released several videos taken with hidden cameras that caught Planned Parenthood officials discussing the use of tissue from aborted fetuses. They made the videos by posing as middlemen for medical researchers seeking fetal tissue. The videos sought, among other things, to prove that Planned Parenthood sold fetal tissue. Federal law allows medical providers to accept donation for processing tissue, but not to profit from it.
The fifth installment in that series of videos was shot in Houston. In the footage, Melissa Farrell of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast says that the group’s research department “contributes so much to the bottom line,” but she also describes money exchanged for tissue as a donation. After two months of investigation, the grand jury in Houston decided not to charge Planned Parenthood or any staffers, but instead to indict Daleiden and Merritt for tampering with government records. That’s a second-degree felony that could carry up to 20 years in prison. Daleiden also received a misdemeanor indictment under a law that prohibits buying or selling human organs.