Texas Planned Parenthood Investigation Was a Spectacular Misfire

David Daleiden, victim of Texas' GOP leadership.
David Daleiden, victim of Texas' GOP leadership.
Center for Medical Progress via Youtube

They couldn't even acknowledge what had happened. In all of the responses — and that term is being used very loosely — from Texas' statewide leadership to an investigation they ordered leading to arrest warrants being issued for two anti-abortion activists, not once did Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick or Attorney General Ken Paxton use the word indictment.

“The Health and Human Service Commission’s Inspector General and the Attorney General’s office have an ongoing investigation into Planned Parenthood’s actions,” Abbott wrote. “Nothing about today’s announcement in Harris County impacts the state’s ongoing 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.”

He said nothing about a Harris County grand jury's finding that Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast hadn't done anything wrong. Nor did he mention the criminal indictment the grand jury issued against David Daleiden, the man behind videos that he claimed were evidence Planned Parenthood traded in parts from aborted fetuses. Nor did Abbott say anything about how the grand jury was so sure of PPGC's innocence that it didn't even take a vote as to whether to charge its officials with anything, according to Josh Schaffer, who represented the agency throughout the Harris County investigation. Abbott, Patrick and Paxton all just licked their wounds and said something about how other investigations were ongoing. 

“The fact remains that the videos exposed the horrific nature of abortion and the shameful disregard for human life of the abortion industry," Paxton said. "The state’s investigation of Planned Parenthood is ongoing.” 

Daleiden and a partner, Susan Merritt, gave PPGC fake driver's licenses when they entered the facility in April 2015 under the auspices of acquiring fetal tissue for their phony research corporation, Biomax, according to their Harris County indictment. Daleiden's California license claimed his name was Robert David Sarkis. Merritt, according to her phony license, was Susan Sarah Tennenbaum. Both have been charged with falsifying a government record, a second-degree felony punishable by two to 20 years in prison. Daleiden was also charged with a misdemeanor for, according to Schaffer, trying to arrange the purchase of organs. Even though no transaction took place — PPGC never agreed to Daleiden's terms — his offering a price, Schaffer says, was enough to get Daleiden charged with violating a state law against organ trafficking.

In a statement, Daleiden asserted that he was simply exercising his rights as an investigative journalist.

"The Center for Medical Progress uses the same undercover techniques that investigative journalists have used for decades in exercising our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and of the press, and follows all applicable laws. We respect the processes of the Harris County district attorney, and note that buying fetal tissue requires a seller as well. Planned Parenthood still cannot deny the admissions from their leadership about fetal organ sales captured on video for all the world to see," he said.

Clearly, he isn't up on his media law.

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As any journalism undergrad could tell you, what Daleiden and Merritt admittedly did is analogous to Food Lion, Inc. v. Capital Cities/ABC, Inc., in which the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that journalists were not protected by the First Amendment when they use deceptive means to gain access to private property.

Schaffer says Daleiden and Merritt are now subject to arrest anywhere in the United States. They are both expected to turn themselves in in Houston, however.


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