Authorities got it all wrong in Planned Parenthood case

Published 10:12 am Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Ann Richards, former governor of Texas, became famous for one quip about George H.W. Bush by saying, “He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.”

Ann’s daughter Cecile, president of Planned Parenthood, has carried on the tradition of joking about body parts. Well, not Cecile herself, but some of the people who work for her. There is no one with a pulse who hasn’t seen or heard of the undercover videos filmed by David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress, in which Planned Parenthood employees are seen munching on salad and chuckling about how they could perform abortions in such a way as to preserve the choicest organs.

After the videos were released last year, abortion supporters tried to do some damage control by saying they were heavily edited and taken out of context. Methinks they did protest too much, because the unedited versions were made available online for anyone who had the stomach to view them.

It’s also very hard to find a proper context for a doctor who says, while sipping merlot, “If we alter our process, and we are able to obtain intact fetal cadavers, then we can make it part of the budget, that any dissections are this, and splitting the specimens into different shipments is this, I mean that’s, it’s all just a matter of line items.”

“Intact fetal cadavers” are, after all, so much better for research purposes than a mass of smashed organs.

Many of us were convinced that this was the moment that Planned Parenthood would be called to answer for some of its more shady practices, the ones that had nothing to do with providing birth control or mammogram referrals.

But even the most sophisticated and savvy of us could not have anticipated the turn of events last week, when a grand jury in Harris County, Texas, handed down an indictment against the filmmaker and his assistant.

According to District Attorney Devin Anderson, “As I stated at the outset of this investigation, we must go where the evidence leads us.”

The evidence did not lead the DA, a registered Republican, to indict Richards and her friends. Apparently, Anderson agreed with the abortion rights supporters and the FOC (Friends of Cecile) that the videos did not show Planned Parenthood employees doing anything illegal, since there wasn’t enough evidence that the organs and tissues harvested by its employees were being sold for a profit.

If things had ended there, I might be annoyed, but I’d chalk it up to the powerful FOC and their ability to protect their fair-haired girl from any real trouble.

But things didn’t end there. That grand jury, which was intent on indicting much more than the DA’s ham sandwich, found a way to stick it to the fellow who made their sweet Cecile sweat. Improbably, they dug up some esoteric Texas law that makes it a crime to tamper with a governmental record, a felony punishable by up to 20 years. In this case, the tampering involved playing around with a driver’s license. And as if the driver’s license count wasn’t enough, the grand jury charged Daleiden and his assistant with the misdemeanor count of purchasing (or attempting to purchase) human organs.

At this point you must be laughing hysterically, right? I mean, you cannot make this stuff up.

When the grand jury turned around and handed down its indictment against Daleiden, it was clear that its members were no longer engaged in a search for the truth. They were out for blood.

At least Daleiden didn’t pervert the legal system to do his work. He engaged in exactly the type of activities that investigative journalists have used for over a century.

So I’m thinking there will be some First Amendment rumblings in defense of these charges. And I know the defendants won’t have to worry about legal fees, because a lot of pro-life attorneys out here are willing to lend them a body part, or two.

After all, Cecile isn’t the only one with friends.

CHRISTINE FLOWERS is an attorney and a columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, and can be reached at