Republican presidential candidate Marco Rubio came to the defense of David Daleiden, the man behind the Planned Parenthood videos, on the campaign trail Tuesday in Iowa.
As LifeNews reported Monday, a Texas grand jury has ignored the videos exposing a Houston-based Planned Parenthood abortion clinic caught selling aborted baby body parts and has indicted Daleiden and another pro-life advocate instead. If convicted, Daleiden faces 20 years in prison while Planned Parenthood officials face no legal consequences for their actions.
Pro-life groups are questioning whether the indictment was politically motivated, and Rubio echoed that concern during an Iowa town hall meeting Tuesday.
“I think it’s pretty outrageous that Planned Parenthood was investigated by some lawyer or district attorney who apparently, according to some news reports, has actually been a board member of Planned Parenthood and donated to them,” Rubio said in response to a voter’s question.
“They investigated Planned Parenthood and they said: ‘We found they did nothing wrong,” Rubio added. “But we’re going to indict the people who filmed them talking about these things.’ That’s outrageous.”
The pro-life candidate was referring to reports that a Planned Parenthood board member works in the Texas district attorney’s office that indicted Daleiden. The same district attorney, Harris County’s Devon Anderson, also failed to prosecute an abortionist accused of killing babies born alive during abortions, according to Operation Rescue.
Daleiden and Sandra Merritt were charged with one felony related to tampering with a governmental record and a misdemeanor count for violating the Texas statute on human organ trafficking for allegedly offering to buy fetal tissue. The felony charge was in reference to the use of a fake ID.
Pro-life attorney Katie Short, with the Life legal Defense Foundation, which is provided legal support for Daleiden and his team, informed LifeNews of what he is facing. Short indicates the tampering felony charge has to do with the Center for Medical Progress investigators’ use of fake IDs to gain access to confidential meetings and events with top Planned Parenthood officials for the purposes of exposing their purchasing of aborted baby parts. This is the same charge that would be leveled at a minor who made or bought a fake ID to buy alcohol, except the minor would be breaking that law and David wasn’t engaging in an illegal activity with the fake ID, Short said.
“The charges filed against Daleiden and Merritt do not in any way diminish the overwhelming evidence obtained by the Center for Medical Progress showing that Planned Parenthood has engaged in and is more than willing to profit from the sale of fetal tissue,” Short said. “Life Legal continues to coordinate with David’s attorney in Texas and remains committed to his defense in the lawsuits filed against him by the National Abortion Federation, StemExpress, and Planned Parenthood.”
The charges were elevated to felonies because the grand jury alleges the IDs were used “with intent to cause harm” to Planned Parenthood. Under Texas law, the charge carries a penalty of two to 20 years in prison.
In a statement to LifeNews, Daleiden said Planned Parenthood has been unable to deny or refute the evidence he and his team collected in the videos that show the abortion company potentially breaking multiple state and federal laws selling aborted baby parts for profit.
“The Center for Medical Progress uses the same undercover techniques that investigative journalists have used for decades in exercising our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and of the press, and follows all applicable laws,” he said.
“We respect the processes of the Harris County District Attorney, and note that buying fetal tissue requires a seller as well. Planned Parenthood still cannot deny the admissions from their leadership about fetal organ sales captured on video for all the world to see,” Daleiden continued.
The grand jury investigation came after the Center for Medical Progress released a video of the Houston Planned Parenthood that appeared to show that the abortion business may be selling the “fully intact” bodies of unborn babies purposefully born alive and left to die. The video shows the Director of Research for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, Melissa Farrell, advertising the Texas Planned Parenthood branch’s track record of fetal tissue sales, including its ability to deliver fully intact aborted babies.
In the video, actors posing as representatives from a human biologics company meet with Farrell at the abortion-clinic headquarters of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast in Houston to discuss a potential partnership to harvest fetal organs.
The grand jury’s decision comes even after state officials raided several Planned Parenthood facilities in an unprecedented move that followed on the heels of pro-life Gov. Greg Abbott announcing earlier in the week that the state would further de-fund the abortion business.
Abbott’s office informed LifeNews that the state investigation of Planned Parenthood continues:
“The Health and Human Service Commission’s Inspector General and the Attorney General’s office have an ongoing investigation into Planned Parenthood’s actions,” said Governor Abbott. “Nothing about today’s announcement in Harris County impacts the state’s ongoing investigation. The State of Texas will continue to protect life, and I will continue to support legislation prohibiting the sale or transfer of fetal tissue.”