A Texas grand jury was recently formed to consider criminal accusations against Planned Parenthood in response to a series of videos that supposedly revealed wrongdoing by the organization. But after considering the evidence, the grand jury decided not only that Planned Parenthood had not broken any laws, but that the undercover videographers were actually the ones who were guilty of a crime.
According to Time, the two people who are believed to be responsible for the secret videos, David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, have been charged for tampering with a government record.
The original videos were released on the internet several months ago, purportedly showing the unethical and illegal sale of fetal tissue. Many articles have since been posted either defending the legality of Planned Parenthood’s actions, or condemning them as criminal.
However, District Attorney Devon Anderson released a statement suggesting that the decision to shift the focus of the criminal investigation from Planned Parenthood to the videographers was simply a result of examining the evidence.
“We were called upon to investigate allegations of criminal conduct by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast. 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.”
The charges of “tampering with a government record” do not seem explicitly linked to the secret filming of the videos, but Planned Parenthood did previously accuse David Daleiden and others of falsifying government documents and inventing fake companies interested in buying fetal tissue in order to gain access to healthcare organizations like Planned Parenthood. These allegedly phony credentials allowed the filmmakers to tape the undercover footage and edit it for the sake of an anti-abortion cause led by the Center for Medical Progress.
“These anti-abortion extremists spent three years creating a fake company, creating fake identities, lying, and breaking the law,” said Planned Parenthood Vice President of Communications. “When they couldn’t find any improper or illegal activity, they made it up. These people broke the law to spread malicious lies about Planned Parenthood in order to advance their extreme anti-abortion political agenda. As the dust settles and the truth comes out, it’s become totally clear that the only people who engaged in wrongdoing are the criminals behind this fraud, and we’re glad they’re being held accountable.”
According to the Houston Chronicle, the indicted filmmakers not only filmed Planned Parenthood officials surreptitiously, but also secretly taped private conversations between doctors and medical professionals. David Daleiden has also been indicted on a misdemeanor charge for purchasing human organs.
Before this purported evidence of tampering was found, Planned Parenthood had already accused the Center for Medical Progress of editing the videos in a misleading way and filed a lawsuit against them. Despite these claims, many Americans believed that Planned Parenthood was guilty of the unethical exchange of fetal tissue and spoke out against the organization. Some have linked this outrage to the shooting that took place in an abortion clinic shortly after the videos were released.
The Center for Medical Progress has not yet commented on the charges brought against Daleiden and Merritt. But if the two are convicted of a second-degree felony by the grand jury, they could each face up to 20 years in prison.
A spokesperson for Planned Parenthood responded to the investigation’s sudden change in focus.
“It’s great news because it demonstrates what we have said from the very beginning, which is that Planned Parenthood is following every rule and regulation, and that these people came into our buildings under the guise of health when their true intentions were to spread lies. We’re glad that these extremists have been indicted for breaking the law.”
Meanwhile, Texas Governor Greg Abbott is convinced that Planned Parenthood is still guilty of something and pledged to continue to fight in opposition to the organization.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) January 25, 2016
Do you think Planned Parenthood is guilty of any wrongdoing? Or should the people who made the videos be convicted?
[Image courtesy of Planned Parenthood]