Women's Health

Pair Behind Infamous Planned Parenthood Videos Indicted in Houston

The Center for Medical Progress' David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, the two "reporters" who filmed a video that they said showed a Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast official talking about selling baby parts but actually didn't, have been indicted in Harris County. Both Daleiden and Merritt are charged with tampering with a governmental record — a second degree felony. Daleiden has also been charged with violating the county's prohibition on the purchase and sale of human organs — a class A misdemeanor.

Daleiden has been accused in a separate lawsuit of falsifying identifications and documents — including setting up a phony tissue procurement company — in order to gain access to Planned Parenthood facilities across the country. On the video filmed in Houston, representatives of the Center for Medical Progress — under the guise of working for Biomax Procurement Services, which was created by Daleiden — discuss the costs of obtaining fetal organs with PPGC staff.

Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson began investigating the PPGC video at the behest of Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who saw the video as proof that PPGC was engaging in the illegal sale of fetal tissue obtained from abortions. Paxton, especially, used video as a chance to take a swing at legal abortion in Texas.
"The videos that have made all the headlines raise a large number of troubling allegations, allegations that — again — my office is aggressively investigating, and we will go to any and all lawful lengths to get to the bottom of what has been happening. But more than any misdeeds involving the sale of aborted baby parts is this fundamental truth: The true abomination in all this is the institution of abortion," Paxton said at a state Senate hearing in July.

After nearly two months of investigation, a Harris County grand jury cleared Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast of any wrongdoing.

“We were called upon to investigate allegations of criminal conduct by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast,” Anderson said Friday. “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 the grand jury’s decision on this difficult case.” An investigation of the Center for Medical Progress videos commissioned by Planned Parenthood of America found that the PPGC video was the most "substantially manipulated" of all of the videos released by Daleiden and company. Subtle stitches were made in the video, according to investigators, to make it seem as if the heavily edited "full version" of the video was, in fact, seamless.
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Stephen Young has written about Dallas news for the Observer since 2014. He's a Dallas native and a graduate of the University of North Texas.
Contact: Stephen Young