Two anti-abortion extremists responsible for last year’s misleading videos attacking Planned Parenthood have been indicted on criminal charges by a grand jury in Houston, Texas.
On Monday, Harris County district attorney Devon Anderson announced that David Daleiden, the director of the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) – the group behind deceptive videos falsely accusing Planned Parenthood of illegally selling fetal tissue – was indicted on a felony charge of tampering with a governmental record and on a misdemeanor charge related to the purchasing of human organs. Another CMP employee, Sandra Merritt, was also indicted on a felony charge of tampering with a governmental record.
The grand jury, which formed to investigate Planned Parenthood following the release of the videos, cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing, and instead decided to indict Daleiden and Merritt. Earlier this month, Planned Parenthood filed a federal lawsuit against CMP, its leaders, and employees – including Daleiden and Meritt – alleging violations of the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO) and engaging in wire fraud, mail fraud, invasion of privacy, illegal secret recording and trespassing.
To date, federal and state-level investigations in 12 states have turned up zero evidence of wrongdoing on the part of Planned Parenthood, eight states have refused to investigate citing a lack of evidence of any wrongdoing, and CMP’s fraudulent videos have been debunked repeatedly. Despite these many investigations, a Select Investigative Panel has been formed in the Energy and Commerce Committee of the House of Representatives to investigate “big abortion providers.” The Panel has, so far, not been willing to investigate CMP leaders or other anti-abortion extremists.
With attacks on abortion providers rising, the Feminist Majority Foundation launched a campaign calling on the House Select Investigative Panel to redirect its focus to anti-abortion violence, intimidation, and harassment, or to disband.
“How can House members investigate abortion providers and ignore the activities of key CMP officials and other anti-abortion extremists, or the routine harassment, intimidation and threats against abortion providers?” asked Feminist Majority President Eleanor Smeal.
Targeted threats and intimidation of abortion providers has nearly doubled over four years. According to the Feminist Majority Foundation’s 2014 National Clinic Violence Survey, the percentage of clinics impacted by targeted threats and intimidation increased from 26.6% of clinics in 2010 to 51.9% in 2014.
Media Resources: Planned Parenthood Federation of America Press Release 1/25/16; New York Times 1/25/16; Ms. Blog 1/15/16; Feminist Newswire 9/1/15; Feminist Majority Foundation