^
Keep Houston Press Free
4
| Courts |

Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast Joins Lawsuit Against Activists Who Lied Their Way Into a Local Clinic

On Thursday, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast joined a lawsuit that accuses two anti-abortion activists who infiltrated a local clinic last year of being part of a criminal conspiracy.

Earlier this year, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America filed its suit in California alleging that activists behind the series of Planned Parenthood “sting” videos released last summer violated a federal law aimed at combating organized crime (the so-called RICO Act). As part of that lawsuit, Planned Parenthood explained how David Daleiden and Sandra Susan Merritt, with an anti-abortion group called the Center for Medical Progress, used fake IDs to lie their way into a Houston Planned Parenthood clinic.

Things haven't exactly gone as planned for Daleiden and Merritt since their undercover visit to Houston last April. Not long after Planned Parenthood filed its lawsuit, the two activists were indicted by a Harris County grand jury for tampering with a government record, a second-degree felony. The charges came after an investigation by Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson, a Republican whose investigation initially targeted the abortion provider. (Anderson became the subject of this brain-bending conspiracy theory after her investigation swung the other way).

I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

Ironically enough, a second charge against Daleiden mirrors his group's allegations against Planned Parenthood. While Daleiden claimed his undercover footage proved that the women's health provider tried to sell him fetal tissue, the grand jury indicted Daleiden with “unlawfully, intentionally and knowingly offer[ing[ to buy human organs, namely, fetal tissue, for valuable consideration.” Daleiden has called himself an "investigative journalist," claiming his tactics — using a false ID to lie his way into a private medical facility — are covered by the First Amendment (naturally, people who study the First Amendment disagree). 

Planned Parenthood argues that the videos released by the group – one of which was filmed inside the Houston clinic – caused “incalculable and irreversible” damage to the women's health provider. Late last year, Texas health officials seized on the videos as a reason to boot Planned Parenthood from the joint state-federal Medicaid program – something the feds insist Texas cannot legally do.

In a statement Thursday, Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast president Melaney Linton said, “Extreme anti-abortion politicians who want to ban abortion have invoked these lies to fuel their efforts to pass extreme restrictions on access to reproductive health care.” 

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.