The Misdemeanor Charge Against Anti-Abortion Activist David Daleiden Was Dropped

He still faces a felony charge.

David Robert Daleiden, right, leaves a courtroom after a hearing Friday, April 29, 2016, in Houston. The anti-abortion activist is accused of record tampering for using a fake driver's license to conceal his identity while dealing with Planned Parenthood. He's also charged with misdemeanor attempting to buy human organs. Pat Sullivan/AP Photo

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A misdemeanor charge against anti-abortion activist David Daleiden for offering to buy human tissue during his undercover investigation of Planned Parenthood was dropped in a Texas court by Presiding Judge Diane Bull.

The charge that Daleiden “unlawfully, intentionally and knowingly offer[ed] to buy human organs, namely, fetal tissue, for valuable consideration” was a class A misdemeanor. It followed his meetings with Planned Parenthood employees that were filmed and eventually became a widely-circulated, eight-minute Center for Medical Progress undercover video.

The selectively-edited video suggested that Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest provider of contraceptive and abortion services, profits off the sale of “baby parts,” which the organization denies. Following the release of the video last summer, twenty states investigated the charges and either cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing or decided to not investigate further. Five congressional committees have also failed to find any evidence of wrongdoing. 

Daleiden still faces a felony charge for allegedly tampering with a government record in using a fake driver’s license during his efforts to investigate Planned Parenthood. Judge Bull dismissed the misdemeanor charges because the Harris County Criminal Court did not have the jurisdiction over the case. The Center for Medical Progress issued a statement that claimed the ruling protected the First Amendment and the Center’s so-called “investigative journalism work.”

“The dismissal of the first indictment today sends a strong message to Planned Parenthood and their political cronies that colluding to suppress the First Amendment rights of citizen journalists will never work,” the group stated.

But Daleiden’s legal troubles are not over. He still faces a lawsuit against the Center for Medical Progress brought by Planned Parenthood for racketeering, illegally creating and using fake driver’s licenses, and invading the privacy of and illegally recording Planned Parenthood officials and staff.

“The people behind this fraud lied and broke the law in order to spread malicious lies about Planned Parenthood to advance their extreme anti-abortion political agenda,” said Melaney A. Linton, CEO of  Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast. “It’s become totally clear that the only people who engaged in wrongdoing are the criminals behind this fraud, and we will allow the court to hold them accountable.”
 

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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