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Texas Grand Jury Indicts Anti-Abortion Activists for Covert Videos

  • Lou Lorscheider

FILE - Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept. 29, 2015.

FILE - Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept. 29, 2015.

A grand jury in Houston, Texas, has indicted two anti-abortion activists tied to the surreptitious recording of fetal tissue procurement talks with a Planned Parenthood official. But jurors found no wrongdoing on the part of the health care provider.

Activists David Daleiden and Sandra Merrit were indicted Monday on the felony charge of tampering with a governmental record. Daleiden, who heads an anti-abortion group, also faces a misdemeanor charge related to the attempted purchase of human organs, which is illegal under U.S. law.

Daleiden's organization last year released a series of covertly shot videos in which undercover activists discuss with Planned Parenthood the sale of aborted fetuses for research. The videos sparked widespread outrage among abortion opponents and fueled months of harsh rhetoric from Republicans in the U.S. Congress.

In mid-2015, Republicans failed in an attempt to use the videos as grounds for cutting off federal funding for Planned Parenthood, which provides abortions and other medical services.

Planned Parenthood has insisted it abides by a law that permits providers to be reimbursed for the cost of processing tissue donated by women who have had abortions. A spokeswoman on Monday said the anti-abortion activists "broke multiple laws to try to spread lies."

Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson, whose office presented the grand jury case, did not say what records were allegedly tampered with by the anti-abortion activists.

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