A grand jury in Houston investigating undercover footage of Planned Parenthood allegations of misconduct instead indicted two anti-abortion activists who made videos of the organization on Monday, according to Fox News.
Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson said in a statement that David Daleiden was indicted on a felony charge of tampering with a governmental record and a misdemeanor count related to purchasing human organs. He is the founder of the Center for Medical Progress, the anti-abortion group that released undercover videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of aborted fetuses for research,
Another Center employee, Sandra Merritt, was also indicted on a charge of tampering with a governmental record.
The D.A. Anderson didn't give details on which record or records were allegedly tampered with and why Daleiden faces a charge related to buying human organs. Those details presumably will be available when the documents charging Daleiden and Merritt are formally made public.
"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."
Planned Parenthood officials swiftly hailed the indictment
In a statement, Eric Ferrero, Vice President of Communications for Planned Parenthood Federation of America, gloated,
"These anti-abortion extremists spent three years creating a fake company, creating fake identities, lying, and breaking the law. When they couldn't find any improper or illegal activity, they made it up.
“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."
The Center had released a series of secretly recorded videos and has accused Planned Parenthood of selling fetal tissue for profit, which is illegal. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, has called footage from the Planned Parenthood clinic in Houston "repulsive and unconscionable." Abbott said the indictments will not impact the state's investigation:
“The State of Texas will continue to protect life, and I will continue to support legislation prohibiting the sale or transfer of fetal tissue."
Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., author of the House-passed Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015, said she was “profoundly disappointed” in the indictments:
“It is a sad day in America when those who harvest the body parts of aborted babies escape consequences for their actions, while the courageous truth-tellers who expose their misdeeds are handed down a politically motivated indictment instead."
Planned Parenthood says it abides by a law that allows providers to be reimbursed for the costs of processing tissue donated by women who have had abortions.
Earlier this month, Planned Parenthood sued the Center in a California federal court, alleging criminal misconduct.
After the lawsuit was filed, Daleiden said he looks forward to confronting Planned Parenthood in court.