The leader of the Center for Medical Progress attempted to catch the clinic selling fetal tissue last April

By Julie Mazziotta
Updated January 26, 2016 10:35 AM
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Credit: Melissa Phillip/Houston Chronicle/AP

A Harris County grand jury that was investigating allegations of medical misconduct against Planned Parenthood in Texas has cleared the organization of any wrongdoing, instead indicting an anti-abortion group that made undercover videos.

The anti-abortion group, called the Center for Medical Progress, secretly filmed Planned Parenthood officials, attempting to catch them selling fetal tissue. Their videos, released in July, sparked outrage in Texas, and were used as the basis for the lawsuit against Planned Parenthood.

Two leaders of the Center for Medical Progress, David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, have been indicted on the charge of tampering with a governmental record, a felony; and Daleidan is also being charged with prohibition of the purchase and sale of human organs, for his attempts to buy fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood.

The grand jury agreed with Planned Parenthood that the organization did not break any laws, and the videos were illegally made without any of the Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast staff’s consent.

“We were called upon to investigate allegations of criminal conduct by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast,” said Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson according to ABC13 in Houston. “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 their decision on this difficult case.”

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Melaney Linton, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, confirmed the ruling in a statement released Monday.

“As we have always said, Planned Parenthood provides high-quality, compassionate health care and has done nothing improper,” Linton said. “Planned Parenthood has never ‘sold’ fetal tissue or facilitated fetal tissue donation in order to profit. These claims are completely false and unfounded.”

“These individuals broke the law and committed fraud in order to spread lies about Planned Parenthood and today they’re going to be held accountable for breaking those laws.” Rochelle Tafolla, also with Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, added, according to Houston Public Media.

The state of Texas, however, will continue their investigation into Planned Parenthood’s practices, to determine if it should continue to receive Medicaid funding, said Governor Greg Abbott in a statement.

“Nothing about today’s announcement in Harris County impacts the state’s ongoing investigation,” Abbott said. “The State of Texas will continue to protect life, and I will continue to support legislation prohibiting the sale or transfer of fetal tissue.”