Charges dropped

Filmmakers behind Planned Parenthood fetal tissue controversy will not face prosecution after all

Sandra Merritt looks on as her lawyers speak with the media after appearing in court at the Harris County Criminal Courthouse February 3, 2016 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Eric Kayne/Getty Images)

The filmmakers who recorded and then distributed a video of Planned Parenthood executives discussing fetal tissue donation — a video that sparked widespread outrage among anti-abortion activists and was later proven to be edited in a misleading way — will no longer face criminal prosecution in Texas. A judge dismissed all criminal charges against David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt, who had been indicted by a grand jury on charges of tampering with government records, alleging that the pair used fake driver’s licenses to pretend they worked for a biomedical research company for a meeting with Planned Parenthood executives. They allegedly secretly filmed the meetings and later edited the films.

The grand jury had been assembled to examine wrongdoing on the part of Planned Parenthood, but instead found evidence of criminal wrongdoing by the filmmakers, surprising many. Lawyers for Daleiden and Merritt said the grand jury had overstepped its mandate, and prosecutors also eventually asked for the charges to be dropped.

Planned Parenthood was critical of the judge’s decision.

“The decision to drop the prosecution on a technicality does not negate the fact that the only people who engaged in wrongdoing are the extremists behind this fraud,” said Melaney A. Linton, the president of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast.

Read the full story in The Guardian.


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