A Houston, Texas grand jury that was investigating Planned Parenthood for violating Texas Penal Code§ 48.02 which prohibits the sale of human organs has instead indicted two persons who made the undercover videos of Planned Parenthood employees. David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt of the Center For Medical Progress were indicted on a felony charge of tampering with a governmental record, Texas Penal Code§ 37.10, and an attempt to purchase fetal tissue in violation of Code § 48.02.
The tampering charge apparently relates to their use of California issued fake ID’s to enter Planned Parenthood’s Houston facility. As the statute makes clear, a felony charge is only warranted where there is an attempt to “defraud or harm” another person which is not the case here. In light of the fact that many civil rights groups use testers it is difficult to see how the use of these IDs can result in a conviction. For example, the US Supreme Court has sanctioned the use of testers in Federal civil rights cases.
Animal rights groups have also used similar tactics in undercover investigations.
The charge of attempting to purchase human organs apparently relates to an email in which Daleiden offered to purchase fetal tissue for $1,600 per sample. This obviously was not a serious offer. This case has considerable First Amendment implications for journalists who use such undercover techniques.