Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast is in the clear, a Harris County grand jury decided Monday. Instead, the two videographers responsible for secretly filming Planned Parenthood officials in Houston were indicted.
The documents were made available Tuesday, accusing David Robert Daleiden and Sandra Susan Merritt, both from California, for using fake California driver’s licenses to enter a Planned Parenthood clinic.
Alexa Ura, a reporter for the Texas Tribune, says the announcement was a surprise, and not all the details about the case are available yet.
“The root of this investigation was that Lt. Governor Dan Patrick – obviously a Republican – asked the Harris County DA to take up the issue,” Ura says.
The two videographers, Daleiden and Merritt, falsely represented themselves as executives at a procurement services companies to trap Planned Parenthood officials into admitting the organization was selling fetal tissue for an illegal profit.
Both have been indicted with a felony for tampering with a government record and Daleiden was also indicted under a Class A misdemeanor for prohibition of the purchase and sale of human organs.
The two released a statement saying the group, calling themselves the Center for Medical Progress, were merely using similar undercover tactics investigative journalists were using, and that they followed the law.
“We don’t have the details of the indictments just yet,” Ura says, “but if you look at the video this individual was actually trying to get Planned Parenthood staff to say that they would sell fetal tissue. And we’re assuming that’s where that charge is coming from.”
So far, Ura says the timeline of the case, and whether there will be a trial, is unclear. “At this point we’re still waiting for those full indictments and to read those charges,” she says.
Either way, the videos elicited a big response from Texas officials who called for investigation into Planned Parenthood. Republican lawmakers are also trying to push the organization out of state and government-funded programs, like Medicaid.
“They have yet to do that legislation that they’ve proposed as largely covered by federal law,” Ura says. “We’re still waiting to see what actual policy effects this will have in Texas.”