A grand jury in Houston, Texas, that was investigating accusations against Planned Parenthood related to the sale of human organs and body parts of aborted babies has instead indicted two abortion opponents who made undercover videos of the organization.
All this sounds ominously reminiscent of the legal system which America and the world have been watching in operation over he past two months in Netflix’s Making a Murderer. As nearly everyone in the world now knows, Steven Avery spent 18 years in jail fro a crime he did not commit. Then, when he tried to get compensation for this miscarriage of justice from those responsible he found himself charged and convicted for murder by the same agencies which put him away in the first case.
The haunting thought at the back of the mind of anyone with a sense of justice and respect for due process who watched that series was “If it happened in Wisconsin, why would we think that it might not happen elsewhere.”
Well, maybe here it is again. David R. Daleiden will need a very good lawyer the escape the clutches of this system about which Bob Dylan sang over 40 years ago in outrage about what he saw as the fitted-out conviction of the boxer, Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter.
Couldn’t help but make me feel ashamed to live in a land
Where justice is a game.
The New York Times reports on the indictment today:
Prosecutors in Harris County said one of the leaders of the Center for Medical Progress — an anti-abortion group that made secretly recorded videos purporting to show Planned Parenthood officials trying to illegally profit from the sale of fetal tissue — had been indicted on a charge of tampering with a governmental record, a felony, and on a misdemeanor charge related to purchasing human organs.
That leader, David R. Daleiden, 27, the director of the center, had posed as a biotechnology representative to infiltrate Planned Parenthood affiliates and surreptitiously record his efforts to procure tissue for research. Another center employee, Sandra S. Merritt, 62, was indicted on a felony charge of tampering with a governmental record.
The record-tampering charges accused Mr. Daleiden and Ms. Merritt of making and presenting fake California driver’s licenses, with the intent to defraud, for their April meeting at Planned Parenthood in Houston.
Abortion opponents claimed that the videos, which were released starting in July, revealed that Planned Parenthood was engaged in the illegal sale of body parts — a charge that the organization has denied and that has not been supported in numerous congressional and state investigations triggered by the release of the videos.
The district attorney, Ms. Devon Anderson, said in a statement yesterday that grand jurors had cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing. She declined to provide details about the case against Mr. Daleiden and Ms. Merritt, including any documents or evidence presented to the grand jury, citing state law on the secrecy of grand jury proceedings.
“As I stated at the outset of this investigation, we must go where the evidence leads us,” Ms. Anderson said. Which is more or less exactly what the prosecutors in the case of Steven Avery said in Making a Murderer.
But, no more than Steven Avery did, Mr. Daleiden is not taking this lying down. He issued a statement on Monday night, pointing out that the organization which exposed the practices of Planned Parenthood, the Center for Medical Progress, “uses the same undercover techniques that investigative journalists have used for decades in exercising our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and of the press, and follows all applicable laws. We respect the processes of the Harris County district attorney, and note that buying fetal tissue requires a seller as well. Planned Parenthood still cannot deny the admissions from their leadership about fetal organ sales captured on video for all the world to see.”
Nor are the pro-life politicians and officials of the State of Texas wilting either. The Times report tells us that Republican Gov. Greg Abbott said on Monday that the inspector general of the state’s Health and Human Services Commission and the Texas attorney general’s office will continue investigating Planned Parenthood’s actions.
“Nothing about today’s announcement in Harris County impacts the state’s ongoing investigation,” Mr. Abbott said in a statement. “The State of Texas will continue to protect life, and I will continue to support legislation prohibiting the sale or transfer of fetal tissue.”
The state attorney general, Ken Paxton, said in a statement: “The fact remains that the videos exposed the horrific nature of abortion and the shameful disregard for human life of the abortion industry. The state’s investigation of Planned Parenthood is ongoing.”
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, in a statement on Monday, played down the significance of the indictment, saying the recent anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision was “a solid reminder of the over 50 million innocent lives that have been lost to abortions.”
He added, “I will never be deterred from standing up to fight to protect the unborn.”
For the pro-life activists in America and further afield the situation will to some extent be viewed as a win-win scenario. The aberration of selling the body parts of human beings killed in their mothers wombs in a manner confessed here will be in the public eye even more than it has been. The American justice system will also remain in the spotlight as will anyone who tries to play it like a game, fast and loose.