Anti-Abortion Activists Who Made Misleading Videos About Planned Parenthood Indicted by Grand Jury

In the city where voters rejected equal rights for LGBT people and in the state that’s led by an anti-abortion governor and represented by Sen. Ted Cruz, a grand jury said today that the only criminals in a months-long Planned Parenthood investigation were the pro-life activists who lied about what the organization does.

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David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt were indicted by the grand jury for tampering with a governmental record, said prosecutors for the county in which Houston is located. The felony charge is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

The two were involved in covert videos last year in which a Planned Parenthood official discussed the procurement of fetal tissue.

Daleiden, leader of the Center for Medical Progress that released the videos, was also charged with violating a prohibition on the purchase and sale of human organs, a misdemeanor, the Harris County District Attorney said.

That last bit is especially ironic. Planned Parenthood engaged in the very legal practice of offering fetal tissue to researchers (like Dr. Ben Carson, at one time), only to get reimbursed for shipping/handling costs. But Daleiden’s team made it sound like Planned Parenthood was murdering babies to obtain the tissues and then selling them for profit.

It was bullshit from the get-go, and many pro-lifers fell for it immediately because, you know, facts are irrelevant when you’re fighting for what you believe is a righteous cause. Republicans used the videos to block funding for Planned Parenthood, putting at risk the lives of many women who rely on the organization for their basic health needs. Carly Fiorina added her own lie on top of the deceptive videos, saying she saw in them a “fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.” (PolitiFact called that “mostly false.”)

In every state where Planned Parenthood was investigated, they came away clean.

That means the only people to get in trouble over the group’s alleged misdeeds are the activists who made up the lies in the first place.

“We were called upon to investigate allegations of criminal conduct by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast,” [Harris County district attorney Devon] Anderson said. “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.”

And the evidence pointed far, far away from Planned Parenthood.

Not that Governor Greg Abbott cares:

“Nothing about today’s announcement in Harris County impacts the state’s ongoing investigation,” Mr. Abbott said in a statement. “The State of Texas will continue to protect life, and I will continue to support legislation prohibiting the sale or transfer of fetal tissue.”

This is what happens when the person in change doesn’t “go where the evidence leads.”

Evidence never mattered to Republicans intent on screwing over women to save the unborn. Women are dispensable. Fetuses that could eventually grow up to become women are not. I don’t get their logic, but there you go.

But at least for now, there’s some justice. And a lot of schadenfreude.

(Image via Susan Montgomery / Shutterstock.com)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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