Houston DA Turns Tables: Center for Medical Progress Planned Parenthood Videographers Indicted

In an unexpected development which may ultimately qualify as a "be careful what you wish for" exercise, the District Attorney in Harris County, Texas, whose county seat is Houston, has indicted Center for Medical Progress videographers David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt.

Yes you read that right, via coverage in the Houston Chronicle (bolds are mine):

Harris grand jury indicts pair behind Planned Parenthood videos

A Harris County grand jury investigating allegations that a Planned Parenthood clinic in Houston illegally sold the tissue of aborted fetuses has cleared the organization of wrongdoing and instead indicted two anti-abortion activists behind the undercover videos that sparked the probe.

Secret videographers David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt were both indicted on charges of tampering with a governmental record, a second degree felony that carries a punishment of up to 20 years in prison. Daleiden received an additional misdemeanor indictment under the law prohibiting the purchase and sale of human organs.

Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson announced the surprising indictments Monday after a two-month investigation.

... The probe began after the Center for Medical Progress, an anti-abortion group run by Daleiden, released footage of the Houston clinic as part of a series of videos showing Planned Parenthood officials casually discussing the methods and costs of preserving fetal tissue for scientific research. That prompted allegations that the organization was profiting off of tissue -- an allegation that was never proven -- and sparked calls for an investigation from Gov. Greg Abbott, Attorney General Ken Paxton and others.

... A spokeswoman for the Houston branch of Planned Parenthood said the news made the organization feel "vindicated."

"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," said the spokeswoman, Rochelle Tafolla. "We're glad that these extremists have been indicted for breaking the law."

... The organization alleged that Daleiden and others used aliases, obtained fake government I.D.s, and formed a fake tissue procurement company in an effort to gain access to private areas and record private conversations to be deceptively edited to create a false impression.

The second indictment for Daleiden suggests that the grand jury found that he went too far in trying to get Planned Parenthood to admit to selling tissue.

Really now? 20 years in prison for doing the kind of undercover work journalists consider heroic if the targets are different.

The Chronicle says that DA Anderson is a Republican, and she is.

We've been through the "deceptively edited" charade so many times, it's really tiresome. CMP deliberately made all of its raw footage available. Major media organizations routinely edit their work and almost never post raw footage in its entirety. But press won't let go of its "deceptively edited" nonsense, so we can expect Planned Parenthood keeps on using it.

As to the "be careful what you wish for" point, if this indictment gives the defense opportunities for discovery and presentation of other evidence, Planned Parenthood may regret what it now believes is "vindication."

For example, there is no dispute that Planned Parenthood was harvesting unborn baby body parts (while possibly also doing so after live births) and getting compensated for fetal tissue. The organization announced in the wake of CMP's videos that it would no longer accept any form of reimbursement. The claim that it was not previously earning a profit would seem to be deserving of close scrutiny.

The prolife movement had best defend Daleiden and Merritt to the hilt, as any form of plea bargain will be seen as the final "vindication" that Planned Parenthood is now tentatively claiming, and for which the establishment press clearly longs.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.

Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer
Tom Blumer is a contributing editor for NewsBusters.