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Texas prosecutor opens criminal probe into Planned Parenthood

At the request of the lieutenant governor, a prosecutor opens an investigation.

On the heels of calls from statewide officials, the district attorney in Harris County, which includes Houston, announced Wednesday she was opening a criminal investigation into the local Planned Parenthood affiliate. The fifth undercover video of a series released by an anti-abortion group calling itself the Center for Medical Progress was recorded at a Houston clinic. 

“It is not clear at this time what, if any, crimes have been committed at the Gulf Coast facility,” said district attorney Devon Anderson. “That is why I am initiating this investigation.”

In a press conference Wednesday, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick said he had requested the inquiry. “The people of America and the people of Texas will not accept this callous attitude toward human life, and I will not accept it. I’ve asked the DA to immediately initiate a criminal investigation to see what laws, if any, have been broken in the state of Texas.”

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He said Planned Parenthood had been "dismembering aborted babies. We should not be selling babies fully intact. We should not have Planned Parenthood potentially as an inducement to abortion, because they make a profit from it, encouraging women to have an abortion." 

Planned Parenthood Federation of America has denied any wrongdoing, saying the videos are edited in a misleading fashion and that fewer than 5 affiliates have participated in legal fetal tissue donation, for which they are reimbursed for costs.

In a statement, Melaney Linton, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, asserted that the video “doesn’t show Planned Parenthood staff engaged in any wrongdoing or agreeing to violate any legal or medical standards." 

Planned Parenthood has long been a target in Texas, which has sought to make sure that no federal or state funds go to women's health services there because some Planned Parenthood affiliates perform abortions. That led to the closing of family planning clinics, including Planned Parenthood clinics, that did not perform abortions. Texas also has passed and mostly implemented the most restrictive abortion law in the country, which has forced clinics across the state to shutter.

The Supreme Court will consider in October whether part of that law is constitutional.