In a delicious turn of events, the Harris County, Texas grand jury that was investigating Planned Parenthood has instead indicted their accusers, David Daleiden, one of the leaders of the Center for Medical Progress and his employee, Sandra Merritt. The Center for Medical Progress was involved in making the infamous doctored undercover videos that surfaced last summer purporting to show that the organization was illegally trying to profit from the sale of fetal tissue.
Although we don’t yet know the details, Daleiden and Merritt were both indicted for tampering with a governmental record (making and presenting fake California driver’s licenses with the intent to defraud), a second-degree felony. They used those licenses to get through security and gain entry into the Houston Planned Parenthood clinic where they surreptitiously filmed their meeting with a Planned Parenthood official. Daleiden was also indicted for a misdemeanor, the “Prohibition of the Purchase and Sale of Human Organs.”
Meanwhile, not only was Planned Parenthood exonerated by the Texas grand jury despite a two-month investigation that was described in the NY Times as “lengthy and thorough”—the investigation involved not only the Harris County district attorney, office, but also the Houston police and the Texas rangers. But many congressional and state investigations have also failed to uncover any wrongdoing.
The feeding frenzy to defund Planned Parenthood
The doctored videos fueled a feeding frenzy to defund Planned Parenthood. In fact, one of the memorable moments of the September 16, 2015 Republican debate was when presidential aspirant Carly Fiorina, trying to be more outraged than her male opponents, declared that one of the Planned Parenthood videos showed
“a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.”
Of course, this turned out to be a lie. Instead of backing down or apologizing for the “exaggeration,” Fiorina’s supporters made another video, one in which “a Pennsylvania woman’s stillborn son, which was used without her permission and falsely passed off as an aborted fetus in an earlier video,” was used. This video, by the way, was also made by the infamous Center for Medical Progress.
Who is David Daleiden and what is the Center for Medical Progress?
The questionably-named Center for Medical Progress (CMP) was founded by David Daleiden, a long-time abortion foe (if you can say that about anyone only 27 years old.) David Daleiden describes himself as “the result of a ‘crisis pregnancy,’ born while his parents were in their junior year of college.” According to an article in the Washington Post, at age 15, he Googled images of aborted fetuses and that “cemented his anti-abortion views.” He became fixated on Planned Parenthood and that led him to join LiveAction, an anti-abortion group that mounted sting operations on the organization.
Eventually, Daleiden hooked up with Troy Newman, the president of Operation Rescue, a man known for making “approving comments about violence against abortion providers though he has denounced violence himself.” Newman, Daleiden, and another anti-abortion activist, Albin Rhomberg, comprise the board of CMP.
To carry out his plan to infiltrate and “expose” Planned Parenthood, Daleiden set up a bogus company, Biomax Procurement Services, that claimed to procure biological specimens for academic and private bioscience researchers. Under the guise of procuring fetal tissue for Biomax, Daleiden and accomplices, filmed conversations with Planned Parenthood’s senior director of medical services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola.
[If you haven’t seen the video, you can watch it here. Note that it clearly doesn’t help that Dr. Nucatola (who comes off pretty callous in the film) talks matter of factly about the nuts and bolts of harvesting fetal tissue while drinking wine and talking with her mouth full. Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards was right to apologize for Nucatola’s “tone” and manner of speaking.]
So, if you think I am enjoying this story to no end, you would be right. I love when liars are caught in their lies and the wrongly accused are vindicated. Daleiden and his Center for Medical Progress did a lot of harm, not only to the Planned Parenthood organization and its employees, but also many women who found their already limited access to abortion even more constrained.
I am sure that those virulently opposed to abortion will not stop their attacks on Planned Parenthood even if Daleiden and Merritt are found guilty. They claim to be protecting the rights of the unborn while willfully denying women in need the right to safe and legal abortions. They proclaim their First Amendment rights while refusing to honor the decision of the Supreme Court. They are right and the rest of us are wrong—except when they aren’t. Hah!
Be sure to read my previous post on this topic, “The Deceit and the Defunding of Planned Parenthood.”