Anti-Abortion Activist Dodges Misdemeanor

     HOUSTON (CN) — A Texas judge on Tuesday dismissed a misdemeanor charge accusing anti-abortion activist David Daleiden of offering to buy fetal tissue from a Planned Parenthood clinic in Houston.
     A Harris County grand jury convened to investigate Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast after Daleiden went undercover at the woman’s health clinic and shot videos he claims show its staff shopping aborted fetal tissue chose instead to indict Daleiden on Jan. 25 on two counts: tampering with a government record, a second-degree felony, and a misdemeanor for his alleged offer to purchase human organs.
     Harris County Judge Diane Bull tossed the lesser charge on a technicality Tuesday, finding the indictment does not address an exception in the Texas Penal Code’s ban on offering to sell or buy human organs for “valuable consideration.”
     The exception legalizes fees paid to doctors for “services rendered in the usual course of medical services,” for “reimbursement of legal or medical expenses incurred for the benefit of the ultimate receiver or the organ” and for travel, lodging and lost wages reimbursement to the organ donor.
     “The indictment does not reference this exception in any way. The indictment’s failure to negate this exception renders it void,” Bull’s order states.
     Daleiden, 27, is director of the Center for Medical Progress, the nonprofit behind a series of undercover sting videos shot at Planned Parenthood clinics across the country. The videos were heavily edited before being released to the public.
     They spurred 11 states to launch investigations into Planned Parenthood, none of which have proven the women’s health care provider sold aborted fetal tissue.
     Daleiden and Center for Medical Progress employee Sandra Merritt, 63, who helped him shoot the video at the Houston clinic, still face the tampering charge, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.
     The felony charge stems from the fake California driver’s licenses they allegedly presented to Planned Parenthood officials to get into the clinic.
     Daleiden and Merritt pleaded not guilty, maintaining they are “citizen journalists” intent on exposing Planned Parenthood’s crimes.
     In an interview on American Family Radio on Tuesday, Daleiden said he’s confident the felony charge will be dismissed because other courts have recognized the right of so-called citizen journalists to go undercover and expose crimes.
     Disposition hearings are set for July 26 for Daleiden and Merritt, who are represented by different defense teams, before Harris County Judge Brock Thomas.

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