Huston – Two anti-abortion activists are facing charges after making undercover videos about Planned Parenthood. Houston grand jury indicted David Daleiden, director of the anti-abortion Center for Medical Progress, and Sandra Merritt, on Monday on charges that they manufactured fake IDs, which is a felony. Daleiden was also charged with a misdemeanor for attempting to purchase fetal parts.
Devon Anderson’s office, who is a Harris County District Attorney, initiated the investigation to look into Planned Parenthood after the videos were released. However, the Houston grand jury cleared Planned Parenthood of misusing fetal tissue and instead on Monday indicted Daleiden and Merrit on felony charges of tampering with a governmental record for using fake driver’s licenses. Daleiden also faces a misdemeanor for attempting to purchase fetal parts.
Now, Lawyers for anti-abortion activists said on Wednesday that the decision made by Huston grand jury is legally flawed and that they would ask the Harris County district attorney not to proceed with the case.
“We believe that this is a runaway grand jury that has acted contrary to the law,” Jared Woodfill, one of the defense lawyers, said at the news conference. “Instead of indicting the wrongdoers here, the organization trafficking in baby body parts, they’ve gone after the whistleblower.”
“How many of us have used a fictitious driver’s license to buy beer? Can you imagine every kid that did that being charged with a second-degree felony? This grand jury has overreached. Obviously, a runaway grand jury would do that,” Terry Yates, another defense lawyer said to justify his clients.
Jared Woodfill, a third attorney for the anti-abortion activists, said the methods that Daleiden and Merritt used to make the undercover videos are not different from the strategies long used by investigative reporters all around the country.
The lawyers did not deny that their clients used fake California driver’s licenses with false names, but they say it was not to defraud Planned Parenthood, they claimed it was to expose the truth. As for the misdemeanor charge related to the purchase of human organs, Yates said it was ridiculous as Daleiden was not going to actually purchase them.
Merritt and Daleiden are expected to travel from California, where they live, to Houston to turn themselves in. Bonds for Daleiden and Merritt were set at $11,000 and $10,000 respectively, the AP reports.
Planned Parenthood has strongly denied the accusations against them. The women’s health center filed suit against Mr. Daleiden and others accused of a role in making the videos alleging that they engaged in a criminal enterprise to spread lies about the group.
According to the women’s health organization, twelve different states have completed investigations into Planned Parenthood after the videos’ release, and all the results came the same: no evidence on No Fetal Tissue Sales.
Source: NY Times