- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The pro-life activists behind the undercover videos of Planned Parenthood’s alleged fetal body parts trafficking operation have been cleared of all charges in Texas.

Harris County prosecutors on Tuesday dropped the final indictment against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, whose Center for Medical Progress undercover video series prompted a congressional probe and several state-level investigations of the nation’s largest abortion provider.

The charge — a second-degree felony for tampering with a governmental record — stemmed from the use of a fake ID in order to gain access to a Planned Parenthood clinic in the Houston area.

In a joint statement, Mr. Daleiden and Ms. Merritt called the charges “bogus” and “politically motivated,” accusing the Harris County District Attorney’s Office of working to benefit Planned Parenthood.

“Planned Parenthood tried to collude with public officials to manipulate the legal process to their own benefit, and they failed,” they said in the statement.

The District Attorney’s Office also had charged Mr. Daleiden with illicitly attempting to purchase human organs, stemming from a fake fetal tissue procurement firm, BioMax, he created as a part of his investigation. That indictment was dismissed earlier this month.

District Attorney Devon Anderson drew the ire of the pro-life movement over the charges. Pro-life activists pointed out that Mr. Daleiden was charged for fictitiously attempting to buy human remains from abortions, while Planned Parenthood was cleared of any charges for genuinely trying to sell them.

Peter Breen, an attorney for the Thomas More Society who represented Mr. Daleiden, said the “meritless and retaliatory prosecution should never have been brought.”

“Planned Parenthood did wrong here, not David Daleiden,” Mr. Breen said in a statement.

It later was revealed that Ms. Anderson has multiple ties to the abortion business. For instance, one of her assistant district attorneys, Lauren Reeder, serves on the board of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast. Ms. Anderson maintained that Ms. Reeder had nothing to do with the indictment against Mr. Daleiden.

Josh Schaffer, an attorney for Planned Parenthood, also admitted under oath that the DA’s office had improperly shared evidence with Planned Parenthood about the case against Mr. Daleiden.

And Ms. Anderson accepted a $25,000 contribution to her 2014 re-election campaign from attorney Chip Lewis, who represents a Houston late-term abortionist.

In 2013 a grand jury led by Ms. Anderson declined to bring an indictment against late-term abortionist Douglas Karpen, who was accused of killing babies born alive during abortions by twisting their necks.

The Center for Medical Progress video series prompted a congressional investigation into Planned Parenthood and spawned a movement to defund it.

The congressional probe found multiple Planned Parenthood branches had violated federal privacy law by sharing patient information with StemExpress, a fetal tissue procurement firm.

The Select Panel on Infant Lives said the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) was violated when abortion clinics provided StemExpress with patient information as a part of the bartering process over fetal tissue.

The investigation also said there is evidence that Planned Parenthood pressured women into consenting to donate the remains from their abortions.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Tennessee Republican who chaired the select panel, said the violations indicate there was a “business contract” between Planned Parenthood and StemExpress to profit from the fetal remains from abortions.

“The key to understanding the HIPAA and consent violations that we’ve referred to HHS is that there’s a business contact between StemExpress and the abortion clinics under which both sides make a profit from the baby body parts inside the young woman’s womb,” Ms. Blackburn wrote. “The contract changes the way both entities view the young woman: her baby is now a profit center.”

Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, said the dismissal of charges against Mr. Daleiden is a win not only for the pro-life movement, but for journalists exercising their First Amendment rights everywhere.

“David Daleiden is a hero, and we are thrilled that these scam indictments have rightly been tossed,” Ms. Hawkins said in a statement. “This is a huge win for all citizen journalists whose First Amendment rights were upheld today.”

• Bradford Richardson can be reached at brichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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