When David Daleiden of The Center for Medical Progress in Irvine turns himself in today in Harris County, Texas—where he has been indicted for crimes in the creation of undercover video stings of Planned Parenthood officials—he will unveil more video "evidence" concerning the illegal sale of fetal tissue, according to his attorneys.
As the Weekly has previously reported, at the Irvine address for Daleiden's "center" is a commercial postal business. The center is a front for anti-abortion activists.
Daleiden and his Center for Medical Progress colleague Sandra Merritt used fake identifications and a made-up company to pose as buyers of fetal tissue from Planned Parenthood employees in meetings the pair captured with hidden video cameras. The footage was meant to shame the women's health organization and aid in a criminal investigation of Planned Parenthood demanded by Texas Governor Greg Abbott.
But in a twist Daleiden and Merritt likely did not expect, the Harris County grand jury concluded that if any crimes happened regarding what is captured on videotape, it was by The Center for Medical Progress activists.
Walking hand-in-hand with Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood employee-turned-right to life speaker, Merritt turned herself in to Harris County sheriff's officials on Wednesday. She and Daleiden are charged with tampering with a government record by allegedly showing workers at the Houston clinic fake California driver licenses and pretending to be from a nonexistent research company called BioMax.
Daleiden, who is also charged with violating the state's prohibition of the purchase and sale of human organs, is scheduled to appear at the Houston courthouse today.
Rather than viewing the charges as a setback, Daleiden is using the attention to further demonize Planned Parenthood, according to a representative.
Tom Ciesielka, a publicist for the Thomas More Society, which is representing Daleiden in court pro bono, announced Wednesday the release of a new video shot at Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast in Houston and newly released documents from a Texas Public Information Act request that are claimed to show how the nonprofit "used accounting gimmicks to hide its illegal sale of fetal tissue."
The footage is from an April 9, 2015, visit by Daleiden and Merritt with Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast Director of Research Melissa Farrell, who has overseen the organization’s fetal tissue supply program since 2006.
“We had two levels of invoicing for them. We had it worded as ‘per consent,’” explains Farrell on the video as she describes a previous fetal tissue deal that took place at her clinic. Farrell indicates that “per consent” is the phrase used in clinic budgeting in place of “per specimen” for fetal tissue.
Farrell is aware that while a patient may consent to supply fetal tissue, the specimen itself may not be useable for experimentation: “There’s probably some situations where somebody would consent and then just not, we didn’t get a sample, or she changed her mind, or something happened to the specimen.”
Addressing this, Daleiden says: “Now obviously, we don’t want to end up paying for material that we can’t use,” and suggests that there be a line item fee of “something else that represents the specimens.”
“Obviously,” Farrell agrees, “Yep. Yeah.”
“I just don’t want it to turn into a situation that is not financially beneficial for you,” says Merritt.
“Yeah, yeah. And we’ll, I’ll take you up on that. I’ll take you up on that. I’ll take you up on that,” Farrell repeats three times, laughing, and continues, “We definitely want to do that, because that’s what staff and management need to see.”
The video also includes footage of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast CEO Melaney Linton advising that Farrell will “work on all of that with you” when it comes to “remuneration” and “compensation” for fetal tissue.
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Farrell told Daleiden and Merritt during lunch that her department “contributes so much to the bottom line of our organization here.”
The total billing from Planned Parenthood for the tissue procurement exceeded $8,000, claims The Center for Medical Progress, which notes the sale, offer to sell, or transfer of human fetal tissue for valuable consideration is a crime under Texas law.
“The evidence that Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast charged exorbitant amounts of taxpayer money in exchange for fetal specimens that it provided at nearly zero cost is overwhelming,” says Daleiden in a release Ciesilka provided to the Weekly. “Governor Abbott and Attorney General [Ken] Paxton need to send a strong message that Houston’s children are not for sale, and they must immediately appoint a special prosecutor to hold Planned Parenthood accountable to the law.
Planned Parenthood, which is suing Daleiden, Merritt and The Center for Medical Progress, alleges previously released video "evidence" was heavily doctored.