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Poetic justice: Felony charge for maker of anti-Planned Parenthood videos

I’ve said it all along and will say it again: The antiabortion “sting” videos purporting to trap Planned Parenthood into admitting it harvests and sells aborted fetal parts for profit were as malicious as they were untrue.

On Monday in Houston, a grand jury agreed.

Asked to investigate Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, a branch of one of the country’s most important healthcare providers for women, the grand jury found no wrongdoing on the part of the group, whose staffers were secretly videotaped talking about the cost of procuring fetal tissue for research. Instead, the grand jury handed down indictments against two of the antiabortion zealots involved in the “sting.”

If that’s not poetic justice, nothing is.

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David Daleiden, the antiabortion zealot who created the Center for Medical Progress as a front for his deceptive efforts, has been indicted on a felony charge of tampering with a government record. (The reason for that charge is unclear, but Planned Parenthood has alleged that Daleiden and his associates used fake government identifications and used aliases.)

He also was indicted on a misdemeanor count that is related to soliciting the purchase of human organs, according to a statement from Harris County Dist. Atty. Devon Anderson (a Republican, I might add, who was appointed by former Texas Gov. Rick Perry).

Daleiden’s associate, Sandra Merritt, was indicted on a charge of tampering with a government record.

Anyone with an ounce of sense or knowledge would not have believed the preposterous claims against Planned Parenthood. Its destruction/delegitimizing/defunding is the Holy Grail of the American antiabortion movement.

In July, the first of several Center for Medical Progress videos was released.  Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s senior director of medical services, Deborah Nucatola, was secretly videotaped as she ate lunch with people she believed to be executives from an Irvine human biologics company.  They pretended to be seeking sources of fetal tissue for medical research.

In what was supposed to be some sort of “bombshell,” antiabortion crusaders claimed that Nucatola admitted harvesting aborted fetal parts, changing abortion procedures to accommodate the harvesting of aborted fetal parts, then illegally selling the aborted fetal parts to medical researchers.

I watched and rewatched the video. I read the transcript. Although Nucatola’s conversation may have been unsavory — who wants to talk about fetal body parts over salad? — I never believed for a moment that she was describing anything illegal or unethical.

As I have noted previously, there will always be abortions in this country. As a result, there will always be aborted fetal parts.  Without fetal cells, we probably wouldn’t have vaccines for German measles, chicken pox and polio. Fetal cells are used in research seeking cures for Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, AIDS, dementia, diabetes and heart disease. Some researchers have experimented with neural stem cells to treat spinal cord injuries.

Later videos, released with great fanfare and accepted as gospel by antiabortion politicians around the country, suffered from the same problem. Just not credible.

And then, in September, presidential candidate Carly Fiorina stood onstage at a Republican debate and upped the stakes against Planned Parenthood. She told a whopper. The undercover videos, she said, showed “a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking while someone says, 'We have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.'"

Her claim was widely debunked.

But Fiorina has never apologized or corrected herself about what Dahlia Lithwick of Slate described as her “big lie.” As of this writing, I have seen no statement from Fiorina regarding the felony indictment in Texas.

Among Texas abortion foes, hope springs eternal. The Republican governor still thinks he has a case against Planned Parenthood, proving he is immune to logic and facts.

“Nothing about today’s announcement in Harris County impacts the state’s ongoing investigation,” said Gov. Greg Abbott. “The state of Texas will continue to protect life, and I will continue to support legislation prohibiting the sale or transfer of fetal tissue.”

That’s too bad since so much good has come of fetal tissue research.

I’m thankful that a group of citizens with common sense were able to see what was clear to people who support the ability of women to rule their own reproductive fates: Planned Parenthood has done no wrong.

It’s the scheming antiabortion types who have crossed legal and ethical boundaries. They're the ones who should go to jail.

robin.abcarian@latimes.com

Twitter: @AbcarianLAT

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