Abortion Foe Behind Sting Videos Ready|to Take on Planned Parenthood Again

     HOUSTON (CN) — A decision this week to dismiss felony charges related to videos that painted Planned Parenthood as selling fetal tissue for a profit came as a surprise to the man behind the videos, who says he’s ready to advance his anti-abortion crusade once again.
     David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt had been indicted by a Harris County, Texas, grand jury on charges of tampering with a governmental record by using homemade identification cards in order to procure a meeting with Planned Parenthood associates in order to record covert sting videos.
     But the Harris County DA asked a judge to dismiss the last remaining charge against Daleiden and Merritt this week. Daleiden and his attorneys were surprised that the dismissal came from the DA’s office, as he and his team were expecting a “serious” full hearing.
     However, Daleiden was “really pleased that the First Amendment rights of all citizen journalists have been vindicated today,” he said in an interview earlier this week.
     Merritt’s attorney, Dan Cogdell, said the charge was incorrect because the falsified identification record was never issued by the government in the first place.
     “In order to be guilty of tampering with a governmental record, you have to start with a governmental record,” Cogdell said.
     For his part, Daleiden suggested that district attorneys in Texas and California were “colluding” with Planned Parenthood directly. He claimed in April that a district attorney in California authorized a raid on his home to acquire the Planned Parenthood footage. He accused California Attorney General Kamala Harris of working with the office for political reasons related to her senatorial campaign.
     Daleiden said he chose to visit the Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast “megacenter” because of its size and robust research department. He posed as a representative for a procurement company interested in buying fetal tissue, he said.
     While Daleiden is admittedly “pro-life,” he wanted to go “undercover” to speak to Planned Parenthood in order to evoke “transparency” that he could not have received if he had been forthright about his intentions, he said.
     Daleiden suspected that the organization’s statements to the public did not match its actual views, so he and his team decided that they “would have to go into the actual spaces where they speak most freely, where they speak most honestly about stuff like that,” he said.
     At the Gulf Goast center, Daleiden said he discovered that abortions and selling the resulting fetal tissue contributed to the “bottom line” for Planned Parenthood.
     Daleiden worried that Planned Parenthood’s profit motive would lead the organization to exercise undue influence over patients’ decision whether to have abortions, he said.
     However, Daleiden was primarily concerned with the ethical ramifications of selling human tissue.
     “At the end of the day, what the harvesting and trafficking of baby body parts shows is a commodification of the human being,” Daleiden said.
     It should be noted that Planned Parenthood has never been officially accused of wrongdoing, including selling fetal tissue, despite 11 states investigating the organization. However, Daleiden believes that a potential indictment is “just a matter of time,” because the organization violated HIPAA rules by sharing patients’ medical records with private companies, he said.
     The dismissal of charges against Daleiden comes in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which overturned provisions in Texas’ abortion law requiring physicians to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital and have facilities comparable to an ambulatory surgical center. The high court found the requirements put undue burdens on women who seek abortions.
     Daleiden disagreed with the ruling, and said that the Supreme Court did not use any “precedent” such as Roe v. Wade to come to such a conclusion. Instead, he said that the court’s decision came down to a “cost-benefit analysis,” which is a job for legislative bodies.
     Meanwhile, Daleiden said he is prepared to go on the “offense” against Planned Parenthood now that his felony case was dismissed. He acknowledged that he will never be able to produce more videos under the same circumstances again, but said that he believes he’s given others the opportunity to investigate other abortion-related organizations.
     “There’s always opportunities for clever people who smell a story, who know that there’s information that the public has the right to know, to go and get that and publicize that,” Daleiden said.

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