In an abrupt turn of events, the Houston grand jury investigating alleged misconduct by Planned Parenthood for the undercover fetal tissue videos has decided not to press charges against the national health care provider. Instead, the grand jury indicted creators of the Planned Parenthood videos, anti-abortion activists David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, for tampering with a governmental record. According to the Houston Chronicle, the Harris County District Attorney's Office also issued Daleiden another indictment for the purchase and sale of human organs, which he was seen attempting with a Planned Parenthood official while undercover in one of his videos.
Jurors concluded in their months-long investigation that there was no evidence that Planned Parenthood conducted any illegal activity. "We were called upon to investigate allegations of criminal conduct by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast," Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson said. "As I stated at the outset of this investigation, we must go where the evidence leads us."
Planned Parenthood hailed the grand jury's decision. "This is absolutely great news because it is a demonstration of what Planned Parenthood has said from the very beginning. We follow every law and regulation, and these anti-abortion activists broke multiple laws to try and spread lies," spokeswoman Rochelle Tafolla of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast told the Houston Chronicle.
Daleiden is the founder of the Center for Medical Progress, the organization behind the sting videos, and Merritt is an anti-abortion activist. The pair covertly filmed footage of Planned Parenthood that accused the organization of selling fetal tissue for profit, which is illegal.
The videos were released last year to outrage by anti-abortion activists that Planned Parenthood was selling "baby parts" — the term itself misleading — but the health care provider had countered that it operated in the legal sphere that allows reimbursement for the costs of processing tissue donated by women who have had abortions, the Associated Press reported.
Cover image via Stephen Brashear / Getty Images