The undercover videographers who released a series of videos last year allegedly showing Planned Parenthood staff selling aborted baby parts have been indicted by a grand jury in Houston, while the local Planned Parenthood clinic has been cleared.
The Houston Chronicle reported on Monday that videographers David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt have been indicted on charges of tempering with a government record, which is a second-degree felony that could lead to up to 20 years in prison.
Daleiden has even been charged with the purchase or sale of human organs, because in the undercover videos he offered Planned Parenthood employees an opportunity to sell him aborted baby parts.
Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson explained in a statement that the probe has lasted over two months:
"As I stated at the outset of this investigation, we must go where the evidence leads us," Anderson said. "All the evidence uncovered in the course of this investigation was presented to the grand jury. I respect their decision on this difficult case."
The Center for Medical Progress, the group which released the videos that allegedly exposed Planned Parenthood, said in a statement following the Harris County announcement that it uses "the same undercover techniques that investigative journalists" use, and argued that it followed 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," the group said.
For its part, Planned Parenthood has denied that it has been involed in anything illegal, and argued that the videos were heavily edited in an attempt to mislead the public. The abortion-provider organization has said that it does not profit from selling fetal tissue, but only receives reimbursements for the costs of preserving the tissue for research.
Rochelle Tafolla, a spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, which runs the Houston clinic, said that the organization feels vindicated after being cleared.
"It's great news because it demonstrates what we have said from the very beginning, which is that Planned Parenthood is following every rule and regulation, and that these people came into our buildings under the guise of health when their true intentions were to spread lies," Tafolla argued.
The National Abortion Federation also celebrated the grand jury's decision, and said:
"As we've known all along, David Daleiden is the one who broke the law, not abortion providers."
Pro-life group Live Action president Lila Rose shot back against the decision, however, and argued that Daleiden and his team have done a "a tremendous public service by exposing the horrific crimes against humanity that Planned Parenthood hides behind closed doors."
"CMP's investigation forced Planned Parenthood, a tax-funded billion dollar corporation, to admit it was harvesting and selling aborted baby parts," Rose said in a statement.
She added that one of the district attorney's office prosecutors serves as a board member of a Planned Parenthood affiliate involved in the case.
"It is unacceptable that the office did not recuse itself to eliminate any and all questions of potential bias. A special prosecutor should be appointed now to review this entire investigation," Rose urged.