On July 26, the Harris County District Attorney’s office in Texas dropped all charges against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, who were responsible for releasing a series of undercover videos which showed that various Planned Parenthood clinics were breaking state and federal laws regarding the trafficking of body parts of aborted children.
On July 14 2015, Daleiden started releasing the videos through the Center for Medical Progress, a California-based organization he founded, which showed pro-life activists posed as buyers of fetal body parts talking to various Planned Parenthood directors in order to show the potentially illegal practices that were taking place there. The videos led to numerous investigations into Planned Parenthood, some which continue to this day, in states such as Florida, Ohio, and Texas.
In order to film these videos, Deleiden had to contact Planned Parenthood and pretend to be in the market for fetal body parts for the fake biomedical research company he created, as well as use a fake driver’s license to gain access to the facility. Because of this, on Jan. 26, 2016, Daleiden and Merritt were both charged for organ trafficking and for using fake identification, while the Texas grand jury found no wrongdoings with Planned Parenthood.
On June 13, Daleiden and Merritt were cleared of the charge of organ trafficking. They still had the charge of using a fake driver’s license held against them though, which could have led to them being imprisoned for up to 20 years had the charge not been dismissed a month later.
Daleiden says several facets of the case had left eyebrows raised, leaving many to wonder if the case was skewed in favour of Planned Parenthood from the start. For example, the fact that Planned Parenthood was not indicted for the harvesting and profiting from fetal body parts sales despite the fact that the videos show evidence of these practices was questionable, though abortion advocates have accused Deleiden of editing the videos to make them intentionally misleading. Additionally, multiple connections between Planned Parenthood and the Harris County District Attorney’s office – including one of the prosecutors being on the Board of Directors for Texas Planned Parenthood – had raised concerns about there being a conflict of interest at the D.A.’s office.
However, Planned Parenthood is not finished with Daleiden yet. On August 3, Planned Parenthood sued Daleiden and the University of Washington to win a restraining-order to prevent Daleiden from releasing documents which would apparently show fetal tissue transactions between the university’s Birth Defects Research Center and Planned Parenthood, claiming that the documents contained the personal information of Planned Parenthood employees and associates. Daleiden claimed that he did not request private information and that these documents, which were obtained through a public records request, should be released with any private information redacted for them. The temporary restraining-order has prevented the University from even releasing the redacted documents