The top figures behind the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) videos that purported to show Planned Parenthood officials selling fetal tissue have been indicted by a Texas grand jury.
The Houston grand jury, ironically, originally convened to investigate Planned Parenthood. Instead, it found no wrongdoing on Planned Parenthood’s part but found evidence of lawbreaking by CMP’s David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt Monday. Both of them face felony charges of tampering with a government record, while Daleiden faces an additional misdemeanor charge related to illegally purchasing a human organ.
It’s not clear what government records Merritt and Daleiden supposedly tampered with, or what the circumstances are of Daleiden’s alleged organ purchase.
Last summer, CMP caused a national media firestorm when it released a series of undercover videos of Planned Parenthood officials. Daleiden and Merritt posed as representatives of a biotechnology company interested in buying fetal tissue from abortion clinics for the purpose of medical research. Their interactions with Planned Parenthood officials, they claimed, were proof that the organization illegally sells fetal tissue for profit, rather than simply giving it away while receiving a cost reimbursement, as required by federal law.
Planned Parenthood has remained defiant, arguing CMP’s videos were heavily edited and provide no evidence of illegal behavior. Thus far, it has been vindicated in the latter regard as several state investigations have ended without finding any evidence of lawbreaking.
But the organization hasn’t emerged unscathed, as several states have cut off funding for Planned Parenthood in response to the videos. Congressional Republicans have also made repeated efforts to defund Planned Parenthood at the federal level.
“This is absolutely great news because it is a demonstration of what Planned Parenthood has said from the very beginning, we follow every law and regulation and these anti-abortion activists broke multiple laws to try and spread lies,” Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast spokeswoman Rochelle Tafolla said in a statement.
Planned Parenthood sued the Center for Medical Progress Jan. 14 in federal court, claiming to be the victims of an extensive defamation campaign.
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