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January 26, 2016

Abortion Foes Charged Over Planned Parenthood Video Sting

A Texas grand jury convened to investigate claims that Planned Parenthood illegally trafficked in fetal tissue has instead indicted the head of an anti-abortion activist group whose secretly shot videos fueled the allegations, reports The New York Times. David Daleiden, director of the Center for Medical Progress, was charged with tampering with a government record and attempting to purchase human organs.

Sandra Merritt, an employee of the center, also faces the felony tampering charge. Harris County, Tex., prosecutors said the pair made and presented phony California driver's licenses to gain entry to an April 2015 Planned Parenthood meeting in Houston. The center began releasing videos in July in which officials with the women's health nonprofit discuss its program to provide tissue from abortion fetuses for medical research, sparking a furor that led to numerous state and congressional investigations and a drive by conservatives to cut off federal funding for the group.

Planned Parenthood says it donates the tissue and does not profit from the practice, which would be illegal. Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson said Monday that grand jurors cleared the organization of any wrongdoing. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said state regulators are continuing to investigate the nonprofit. Mr. Daleiden, who posed as an official with a biomedical firm seeking to procure fetal organs from Planned Parenthood, said the center "uses the same undercover techniques that investigative journalists have used for decades … and follows all applicable laws."