A grand jury in Harris County TX that was investigating an undercover video of Planned Parenthood found that the organization had done nothing wrong. Instead, the grand jury in Houston decided to indict two anti-abortion activists who made the video.
The grand jury looked at the case where it was alleged that Planned Parenthood in Houston had engaged in illegal activities, such as selling aborted baby parts for profit. However, after two months of investigation, the grand jury found no laws had been broken.
Instead the makers of the video, David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, were indicted for Tampering with a Government Record. Daleiden also was indicted for Prohibition of the Purchase and Sale of Human Organs.
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) January 28, 2016
According to Harris County DA Devon Anderson, the justice system was called upon to investigate criminal misconduct by Planned Parenthood, but the actual evidence showed that the organization had done nothing wrong.
Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee from Houston stated that the illegal videos were an assault on legal abortion.
Planned Parenthood stated after the indictment was handed down that after 2 months of investigation, the Harris County grand jury cleared Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast of doing anything illegal. It also noted that the investigation was spurred by a ‘widely discredited’ video smear campaign to advance ‘an anti-abortion agenda.’ The grand jury gave out indictments for the two people who set up the illegal conspiracy to wrongly accuse Planned Parenthood of breaking the law.
PP added that the people who shot the illegal video broke the law to spread ‘malicious lies’ about PP. The organization concluded that it was glad that the criminals in the case are being held accountable.
TX Governor Greg Abbott also released a statement on the indictment, noting that there was nothing in the announcement above that affects the ongoing investigation of Planned Parenthood. .He said that the state will continue to stand up for and protect human life, and Abbott will continue to support laws that prohibit the sale of fetal tissue.
The videos were a major rallying point for people who are strongly opposed to abortion. They also fueled threats to shut down the US government and to reduce or cut funding for Planned Parenthood in several states.
The videos also inspired several other investigations. After the video was first released in summer 2015, several states began to look into if the fetal tissue sale alleged in the videos were occurring in their states.
According to NPR, these state investigations have not shown that PP was selling or profiting off of such tissue. Twelve states have done investigations into the organization: Some of these include the following:
Florida Gov. Rick Scott requested an investigation to see if PP was selling any fetal body parts. On Aug, 5, the agency that looked into the matter released findings that stated that no PP offices in Florida had been marketing fetal tissue or body parts.
However, the investigation did show that one clinic of 16 in FL was not properly keeping records of fetal remains. Also, three were found to be doing second trimester abortions, when they were only licensed to do abortions in the first trimester. PP disputed this, noting that the state had altered the rules on how it measures the initial trimester.
Governor Nathan Deal in July 2015 asked the Departments of Community Health and Public Health to study if PP had engaged in selling fetal body parts. On Aug. 13, the Dept. of Public Health stated that all five abortion clinics in the state had the right procedures in place to dispose of the fetal remains.
In July 2015, Gov. Mike Pence asked the IN Department of Health to study the PP clinics in the state to see if they were selling any fetal tissue. Several weeks later, the department noted that it had not found any evidence of such activity.
About Conspiracy Charges
This case is surprising because the organization that was being investigated for a crime turned out to be innocent. Yet the accusers of Planned Parenthood have been charged with engaging in an illegal conspiracy. A criminal defense attorney usually has his or her hands full when trying to disprove criminal conspiracy. There does not have to be any sort of written agreement: Only that there was implicit agreement that those involved were going to commit a crime. Federal conspiracy law is so flexible that it is possible for two people to be involved in a conspiracy, and never actually meet one another.