On July 26, prosecutors in the Harris County District Attorney’s office dropped remaining charges against both David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, the two reporters from Center for Medical Progress who secretly filmed multiple Planned Parenthood meetings. The pair’s series of undercover videos exposed the inner workings of Planned Parenthood’s “fetal tissue donation” program to a stunned national audience.
The Houston Chronicle reported that Daleiden and Merritt were due at a hearing that morning to defend a legal motion to drop the charges, but prosecutors dropped them before the meeting ever started.
Daleiden remarked that the dismissal of the charges is “a resounding vindication of the First Amendment rights of all citizen journalists, and also a clear warning to any of Planned Parenthood’s political cronies who would attack whistleblowers to protect Planned Parenthood from scrutiny.”
A Texas grand jury was originally called to investigate Planned Parenthood, but was wrongly held over, instead indicting the two pro-life reporters with felony counts of tampering with government records and using false identification to gain access to the Houston-based Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast. Both Daleiden and Merritt each faced up to 20 years in prison for the charges, but the two turned down plea bargains because they knew they were right. The reporters posed under different names as Biomax employees, a fictitious company looking to obtain fetal body parts for biological experiments.
CMP has long accused the Harris County DA’s indictment as being politically motivated, and in April, CMP attorneys asked a judge to dismiss the charges after DA Devon Anderson’s office clearly colluded with Planned Parenthood. Anderson later admitted to collusion in May, but referred to her own breaking of the law as “minor and harmless”. “A year after the release of the undercover videos, the ongoing nationwide investigation of Planned Parenthood by the House Select Investigative Panel makes clear that Planned Parenthood is the guilty party in the harvesting and trafficking of baby body parts for profit,” concluded Daleiden.
The same grand jury didn’t bring charges against Houston abortionist Douglas Karpen, even thought multiple eyewitnesses accused Karpen of twisting off babies’ heads with his bare hands. As it turns out, Karpen’s attorney seems to have close ties with DA Anderson.
Nevertheless, all charges in Texas have now been dismissed against the two reporters, including a misdeameanor count of trafficking human organs, which takes the wind out of the sails of Planned Parenthood, because the organization used the indictments against CMP to discredit the validity of the videos. “These false charges can no longer be used by Planned Parenthood and their cronies as a smokescreen to hide their own criminal conduct,” said Troy Newman, a founding board member of CMP. Daleiden and Merritt may still face legal issues in California, where they are being investigated by the state attorney general.