Law & the Courts

In Houston, a Dubious Indictment

David Daleiden (TheBlaze/YouTube)

When David Daleiden, founder of the Center for Medical Progress, launched his now-famous investigation of potential organ trafficking at Planned Parenthood, he had to know that his work would place him within the Left’s crosshairs. Planned Parenthood, after all, isn’t merely the nation’s largest abortion provider, it’s the centerpiece of the Left’s efforts to normalize the killing of unborn children as merely one aspect of “reproductive health care.” It receives hundreds of millions of dollars in government funding, President Obama has asked God’s blessings on the organization, and his administration defends it so fiercely that he once pledged to shut down the government rather than permit Congress to cut its public subsidies.

Daleiden’s secret videos, recorded with the aid of other Center for Medical Progress employees, showed Planned Parenthood officials willing — even eager — to discuss exchanging fetal remains for money, even to the point of potentially altering the method of abortion to preserve the desired organs. Planned Parenthood denied that the videos showed an intention to engage in illegal conduct. They were merely asking for cost reimbursements in exchange for tissue donations, they claimed. But the language they used, and which Daleiden’s team caught on tape, clearly indicated otherwise. One does not purchase a “Lamborghini” (to quote one Planned Parenthood employee) with mere “cost reimbursements.”

While Daleiden has steadfastly claimed that he and his employees complied with all applicable laws in the course of their investigation, a grand jury in Harris County, Texas, yesterday indicted Daleiden and one of his employees, charging both of them with felony counts for tampering with a government document. The grand jury also charged Daleiden with a misdemeanor related to purchasing human organs. Precise details of the charges weren’t immediately available, though the New York Times reports that the “tampering” charge was related to the alleged creation of false identification cards used to gain access to Planned Parenthood facilities. Ironically enough — and to the immense glee of the pro-abortion Left — the grand jury that indicted Daleiden had been originally convened at the request of Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick to investigate Planned Parenthood. The grand jury cleared Planned Parenthood and instead indicted Daleiden.

#share#It would be easier to have confidence in the grand jury’s actions if Texas weren’t the American capital of politically motivated prosecutions. Tom DeLay spent years fighting a bogus indictment, former governor Rick Perry still faces criminal charges over a veto threat, and University of Texas regent Wallace Hall narrowly escaped indictment after blowing the whistle on misconduct at the state’s flagship university. In this case, one of the prosecutors in the Harris County district attorney’s office sits on the board of Planned Parenthood, Gulf Coast. (The district attorney claims she played no role in the case.)

And while there is no investigative-reporting exception to criminal statutes (though a reporter’s purpose can be relevant in establishing whether there is the necessary criminal intent), one can’t help but notice the double standard. NBC’s David Gregory once waved an illegal high-capacity magazine at the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre during a contentious interview on Meet the Press. Gregory wasn’t prosecuted, even though District of Columbia police explicitly warned his news editor prior to the program that possessing the magazine was illegal under D.C. law; the police recommended showing a photograph instead. The prosecutor simply exercised his “prosecutorial discretion” to let Gregory off, scot-free, although Gregory had intentionally and knowingly defied the law. But there Gregory was taking on the NRA, the Left’s favorite bogeyman. Here, Daleiden had the misfortune of confronting the corporate heroes of the sexual revolution.

#related#It should go without saying that the charges against Daleiden — whatever their merit — are irrelevant to the larger question of Planned Parenthood’s own wrongdoing. The pro-abortion movement has attempted to discredit his reporting by alleging — but not proving — that he manipulated his videos. It will use the same smear tactics now and cite the indictment as “proof” that the entire investigation has been debunked. Those who care about life and truth should not let Planned Parenthood escape so easily. Indeed, it was heartening to see Texas governor Greg Abbott pledge to continue to investigate Planned Parenthood’s practices. Likewise, Texas attorney general Ken Paxton was correct to note that the videos exposed the horror of abortion and Planned Parenthood’s casual disregard for human life.

Daleiden now faces up to 20 years in prison while Planned Parenthood is celebrated for vigorously defending its core business: the mass-scale killing of innocent human beings. No American is exempt from the law, but the notion that the law itself protects killing in the womb is the greatest injustice of all.

The Editors — The Editors comprise the senior editorial staff of the National Review magazine and website.

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