When “undercover” videos targeting Planned Parenthood first surfaced, many Republican officials and far-right activists believed the controversy would lead to criminal indictments. As of yesterday, they were half-right: one investigation into the matter did lead to criminal charges, but as it turns out, the conservative accusers have become the accused.
A Houston grand jury on Monday indicted two anti-abortion activists in connection with undercover videos shot in Texas that purported to show fetal organ sales inside a Planned Parenthood clinic.The grand jury meanwhile declined to indict anyone from Planned Parenthood, Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson said in a statement.
David Daleiden, founder of a group that calls itself the Center for Medical Progress, was responsible for the videos, and yesterday was charged with a felony count of tampering with government documents, as well as a misdemeanor charge related to buying human organs.
And while tampering with government documents may seem like an odd crime under these circumstances, note that Daleiden and his accused colleague, Sandra Merritt, allegedly created fake materials, including bogus driver’s licenses, as part of their scheme.
The district attorney in this matter added yesterday that Planned Parenthood has been cleared of any wrongdoing – which is more than can be said of the activists who targeted the health organization.
This criminal case is separate from a civil suit filed by Planned Parenthood, accusing the Center for Medical Progress of executing a “complex criminal enterprise” that involved “fake companies, fake identities and large-scale illegal taping.” That case will continue as the criminal proceedings move forward.
Planned Parenthood critics hoping for evidence of wrongdoing elsewhere have also been discouraged by state investigations that have turned up nothing. Just last month, Florida officials wrapped up the latest in a series of state-based probes that determined the health organization did nothing wrong.
At this point, it seems the organization is faring far better than its detractors.
Disclosure: My wife works at Planned Parenthood, but she played no role in this piece and her work is unrelated to the controversial videos and the civil suit referenced above.