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July 26, 2016

Charges Against Activists Behind Planned Parenthood Videos Dropped

Prosecutors in Houston dismissed all charges Tuesday against anti-abortion campaigners who targeted Planned Parenthood in a series of guerrilla videos released last summer, the Houston Chronicle reports. The surprise move by the Harris County District Attorney's Office came before a hearing on the legitimacy of the indictment against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, parts of which a judge ruled last month were flawed.

Mr. Daleiden, head of anti-abortion group the Center for Medical Progress, and Ms. Merritt were indicted in January by a grand jury that was convened to investigate the group's claim that Planned Parenthood trafficked illegally in fetal tissue. The panel instead charged the activists with tampering with a government record in using fake driver’s licenses to gain entry to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Houston.

Mr. Daleiden has said he was acting as a journalist protected by the First Amendment in secretly shooting videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing the nonprofit’s donation of fetal organs for medical research. He and his lawyers called the dismissal of the charges a victory for the anti-abortion movement. A string of state-level investigations have cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing in its handling of fetal tissue.