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Grand Jury Indicts Anti-Abortion Activists Who Made Undercover Videos

A Texas grand jury investigating Planned Parenthood took no action against the abortion provider, but it indicted two anti-abortion activists involved in making covert videos of the organization.

According to a statement from Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson, the 232nd Grand Jury extensively reviewed the joint investigation into allegations of misconduct by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast for more than two months and cleared the organization of breaking the law. However, the grand jury did hand down indictments for two individuals who were involved in making the allegations against Planned Parenthood using covert recordings.

The investigation stemmed from an undercover video released last summer, in which the activists, posing as potential buyers for a human biologics company, talk with a Planned Parenthood executive about how the organization provides human tissue for research. The video sparked outrage among Republican leaders and anti-abortion groups nationwide. The video, which alleged Planned Parenthood was illegally profiting from the donated tissue, prompted Gov. Greg Abbott to call for an investigation into Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast in Houston.

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But instead of finding evidence of wrongdoing by the organization, the grand jury returned indictments against anti-abortion activists David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt. They were both indicted for tampering with a governmental record, which is a felony, and Daleiden was also indicted on a misdemeanor charge of illegally offering to purchase human organs in the video recording, Houston Public Media reports.

"It affirms 100 percent what we have said from the very beginning, and that is that Planned Parenthood follows local, state and federal laws and extremely high medical standards, and our first priority is patient care," said Rochelle Tafolla, with Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, according to Houston Public Media. "These individuals broke the law and committed fraud in order to spread lies about Planned Parenthood and today they're going to be held accountable for breaking those laws."

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a brief statement following the indictments:

"The fact remains that the videos exposed the horrific nature of abortion and the shameful disregard for human life of the abortion industry. The state's investigation of Planned Parenthood is ongoing."

Earlier this month, NPR's Jennifer Ludden reported that Planned Parenthood filed a civil lawsuit against the anti-abortion group with which the activists were affiliated — called the Center for Medical Progress — accusing it of conspiracy and fraud.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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