Judge Tosses ‘Defective’ Charge Against Activist Who Exposed Planned Parenthood Organ Sales

Daleiden cleared of organ trafficking, still faces tampering charge

Pro-life activist David Daleiden / AP

A Texas judge threw out one of the charges against the pro-life activist who captured Planned Parenthood executives on tape talking candidly about selling baby body parts.

A Harris County, Texas judge dropped a misdemeanor charge of attempting to purchase or sell human organs against Center for Medical Progress founder David Daleiden in connection to his 2015 undercover investigation of the nation’s top abortion provider. Judge Diane Bull voided the charge, citing a "defective indictment" that failed to establish that the Center for Medical Progress went outside the bounds of a law prohibiting the sale of organs for profit.

"An indictment’s failure to negate an exception is the same as its failure to allege an essential element of the offense; it renders the indictment void," the judge said. "The indictment’s failure to negate this exception renders it void."

Daleiden and a female colleague posed as prospective buyers of baby body parts in meetings with top Planned Parenthood officials. They released a series of videos showing abortion doctors discussing harvesting and "line item" sales techniques to maximize profits. Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson filed charges against Daleiden after a grand jury indicted him in January.

The Center for Medical Progress has denied any wrongdoing in the case, calling the indictment a "bogus charge." The organization has accused District Attorney Devon Anderson of pursuing "a politically-motivated sham" after a lawyer for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast admitted that the DA’s office shared sensitive, private material with the abortion provider during the grand jury hearing.

"Judge Diane Bull’s swift dismissal of the bogus charge against CMP founder David Daleiden of trafficking human organs is the latest confirmation that the indictments from a runaway grand jury in Houston were a politically-motivated sham all along," the Center for Medical Progress said in a statement. "In finding that the indictment was void on its face, Judge Bull’s ruling directly contradicts the District Attorney’s argument that the indictment was valid."

Anderson has denied that politics played any role in the indictment. The District Attorney’s office and Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast did not return requests for comment. Anderson’s office told KHOU that it will not appeal the dismissal.

Daleiden posted a video in August showing Melissa Farrell, director of research for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, discussing the various ways that abortion doctors can alter procedures to procure intact organs—a potential violation of federal law. Farrell also discussed how medical personnel can dissect an intact baby’s parts after its removal from the womb in order to charge higher prices.

"If we alter our process, and we are able to obtain intact fetal cadavers, we can make it part of the budget that any dissections are this, and splitting the specimens into different shipments is this. It’s all just a matter of line items," Farrell says in the video.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal defunded Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast in the wake of the video’s publication. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry barred the organization from collecting government funds in 2011.

Several federal agencies and congressional committees are investigating Planned Parenthood in connection to the undercover videos. Harris County and California are investigating Daleiden.

Pro-life groups welcomed the dismissal. Terry Schilling, executive director of the nonprofit American Principles Project, called Bull’s decision "overdue justice."

"Americans of all persuasions should take note of the vitriol, corruption, and hatred that the leftist establishment has for anyone that seeks to shine light on their radical, horrifying agenda," Schilling said. "Planned Parenthood was caught redhanded trafficking the body parts of human beings that they deem unfit for life. They were maximizing their profits by selling the body parts of the most helpless and vulnerable in our society to the highest bidder."

Daleiden still faces a felony charge of tampering with government documents before a different Harris County court. The next hearing in that case takes place in July.