Anti-abortion activists face charges in USA
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A Texas grand jury investigating allegations of misconduct against a major US abortion provider has instead indicted two anti-abortion activists who filmed the group in videos publicised by conservatives.
The grand jury also cleared Planned Parenthood - a decades-old women’s health network - of wrongdoing.
David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt of the Center for Medical Progress were both indicted for tampering with a government record. Daleiden had an additional misdemeanor count related to the purchase of human organs.
In a series of undercover videos shot by the centre, Planned Parenthood officials were shown discussing providing body parts taken from aborted fetuses for use in medical research.
Planned Parenthood admits to having fallen prey to the ruse, but says its doctors were merely explaining the process of how fetal tissue is collected and distributed - never sold, it insists - for research purposes.
The grand jury found that Planned Parenthood had not broken any laws.
“We were called upon to investigate allegations of criminal conduct by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast,” said Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson.
“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.”
Texas Governor Greg Abbott stressed that the grand jury decision would not impact the state’s own investigation into the case.
“The state of Texas will continue to protect life, and I will continue to support legislation prohibiting the sale or transfer of fetal tissue,” said Abbott, a Republican.
Earlier Monday, the newspaper USA Today published an op-ed article by Daleiden in which he said that Planned Parenthood and federal law governing abortions “were never in step with the American people and are now completely out of touch with public attitudes.”
“The undercover videos of top-level Planned Parenthood executives and medical directors callously negotiating both the harvesting techniques and the exchange of money for aborted body parts have forever banished from the public discourse Planned Parenthood’s out-of-sight, out-of-mind mantra on its industrial-scale abortion business,” he wrote.
Earlier this month, Planned Parenthood announced it had filed suit in federal court against the Center for Medical Progress.