This backward situation will undoubtedly chill journalistic activity in Texas and elsewhere.
In an astonishing bit of legerdemain, a local grand jury in Harris County, Texas, has refused to indict Planned Parenthood for violating a Texas statute that prohibits the attempted sale of human organs, despite the video evidence to the contrary showing Planned Parenthood doctors and executives discussing organ sales.
But the very same grand jury has indicted David Daleiden, the founder of the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), who organized, filmed, and released the undercover “60 Minutes”-style videos, for supposedly violating the very same Texas statute, which also prohibits the attempted purchase of human organs.
In other words, a private individual whose only intent is to expose possibly illegal activity is under indictment for actions in connection with an undercover video operation, but the illegal actor itself—Planned Parenthood—is off the hook. This backward situation will undoubtedly chill journalistic activity in Texas and elsewhere.
According to copies of the two charging sheets filed with the Harris County Clerk’s Office that we obtained, Daleiden and his colleague, Sandra Merritt, were also indicted for tampering with a governmental record—specifically, making and presenting a falsified California driver’s license, which is a felony.
A violation occurs if a person “knowingly or intentionally offers to buy, offers to sell, acquires, receives, sells, or otherwise transfers any human organ for valuable consideration.” This is a misdemeanor charge, and there are various exceptions, such as for “reimbursement of legal or medical expenses incurred for the benefit of the ultimate receiver of the organ.”
The undercover videos that CMP released certainly seem to show that Planned Parenthood employees were trying to receive much greater compensation for the organs of aborted babies than a simple reimbursement of costs. They talk about getting “top dollar” and discuss different prices for various organs. Handling and transportation costs are not going to change whether you are harvesting—what a euphemism for what is really going on—a liver or a heart.
You even have one Planned Parenthood executive caught saying she needed to get the right price for aborted organs because she wants “a Lamborghini,” which, if it was a joke, was an atrocious one.
The point, however, is that if the grand jury believes that Daleiden should be charged with offering to buy a human organ, based on the videos, it almost inconceivable that the same grand jury would not also conclude that Planned Parenthood should be charged with violating the same statute by offering to sell him human organs. The entire context of the video involves a complicated haggling process, but only one of the two parties appears to actually intend to go through with the illegal sale—and that party is Planned Parenthood.
Crucially, the Texas statute also has a clear intent standard: A violation requires the grand jury to find that CMP made its offer to buy “knowingly and intentionally.” Given that the grand jury knew that all of these videos were part of an undercover sting operation intended solely to show what Planned Parenthood was doing; that CMP was not actually in the business of purchasing organs like one of Planned Parenthood’s other partners,StemExpress; and that it was a fake offer, how could the grand jury possibly conclude that this intent standard was met? It is highly likely that no reasonable jury would ever convict under these admittedly unusual factual circumstances.
This indictment also sets a terrible precedent.
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Source: Daily Signal