Texas Push to De-Fund Planned Parenthood Is Based on the Work of Two Alleged Criminals

click to enlarge Authorities say Sandra Merritt and David Daleiden used these fake IDs to lie their way into a Houston Planned Parenthood clinic. - U.S. District Court
U.S. District Court
Authorities say Sandra Merritt and David Daleiden used these fake IDs to lie their way into a Houston Planned Parenthood clinic.
In recent years, the undercover videos shot by anti-abortion activists David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt have been very important to Texas’ Planned Parenthood-hating conservatives.

It was those heavily-edited, undercover videos accusing Planned Parenthood of hawking fetal tissue for profit that led to Texas’ latest crusade to defund the group. Even as those secretly-recorded discussions with abortion providers got some very angry public officials to demand numerous criminal investigations across the country, all of them ultimately cleared Planned Parenthood of any illegal activity.

In fact, it was in Texas that a grand jury originally tasked with investigating the health care provider turned around and instead issued felony indictments against Daleiden and Merritt, who used fake IDs to lie their way into a Houston Planned Parenthood clinic for some of their footage. This week, California’s state attorney general announced 15 felony counts against each activist, including charges they conspired to invade the privacy of medical providers.

None of this, mind you, has kept Texas health officials from using Daleiden and Merritt's work as proof Planned Parenthood broke laws and should be booted from the joint state-federal Medicaid program. Last month, federal district court Judge Sam Sparks was unsparing in his criticism of the state’s case when he blocked officials from going through with the de-funding plan before a trial on the matter.

“A secretly recorded video, fake names, a grand jury indictment, congressional investigations — these are the building blocks of a best-selling novel rather than a case concerning the interplay of federal and state authority through the Medicaid program,” Sparks wrote. “Yet rather than a villain plotting to take over the world, the subject of this case is the State of Texas’ efforts to expel a group of health care providers from a social health care program for families and individuals with limited resources.”

Last year, prosecutors in Texas inexplicably dropped all charges against Daleiden and Merritt. Harris County’s then Republican district attorney, who faced enormous criticism by anti-choice groups because the indictments fell on her watch, actually killed the case right before a hearing to consider the merits of the charges, claiming grand jurors had overstepped their authority.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton meanwhile has vowed appeal Sparks’ ruling. Which we’re guessing might be even harder now, considering the anti-abortion duo who triggered Texas’ decision to axe Planned Parenthood’s funding in the first place just got hit with a new slew of new felony charges.
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