US grand jury rules for Planned Parenthood

  • 26/01/2016
US grand jury rules for Planned Parenthood

Two anti-abortion activists behind the filming of videos on foetal tissue procurement by Planned Parenthood have been indicted by a Texas grand jury, which cleared the women's health group of any wrong-doing.

The videos released last (northern) summer led Texas and other Republican-controlled states to try to halt funding for local Planned Parenthood operations, with Republicans in the US Congress also pushing for a funding cut.

The grand jury reviewed the case for more than two months and its decision was a result of a probe launched last year under Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, who accused Planned Parenthood of the "gruesome harvesting of baby body parts".

"After a lengthy and thorough investigation by the Harris County District Attorney's Office, the Texas Rangers, and the Houston Police Department, a Harris County grand jury took no action on Monday against Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast," the Harris County District Attorney's office said in a statement.

Planned Parenthood has denied the accusation and called the probe politically motivated.

David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt were indicted by the grand jury for tampering with a governmental record, said prosecutors for the county in which Houston is located. The felony charge is punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

The two were involved in covert videos last year in which a Planned Parenthood official discussed the procurement of foetal tissue.

Daleiden, leader of the Center for Medical Progress that released the videos, was also charged with violating a prohibition on the purchase and sale of human organs, a misdemeanour, the Harris County District Attorney said.

There were no details released on the allegations against them.

The videos purported to show Planned Parenthood officials trying to negotiate prices for aborted foetal tissue. Under federal law, donated human foetal tissue may be used for research, but profiting from its sale is prohibited.

Arkansas and Louisiana, two neighbouring states that have launched similar moves to cut state Medicaid funding after the videos, have been on the losing end of federal lawsuits, with judges blocking their attempts to halt funds.