By Charlie Johnston
In 2010, the Philadelphia abortion clinic of Kermit Gosnell was raided by legal officials. For over 20 years, it had been run as what a Grand Jury would later call a “House of Horrors,” where live babies had their throats slit or heads twisted off. The severed feet of infants were routinely placed in specimen jars and saved as “trophies.” Conditions were so unsanitary and dangerous that even the National Abortion Federation (NAF), after inspection, did not approve the facility for membership. Even so, the NAF did not report the facility to law enforcement or public health officials.
In fact, the clinic was not raided over abortion issues at all, but because law enforcement suspected Gosnell was selling illegal prescriptions. That it was an effective charnel house was not discovered until after the illegal drug raid. The facility had rarely been inspected, once going a full decade with no scrutiny at all. Under political pressure from pro-abortion forces, the Pennsylvania Dept. of Health ceased inspecting abortion facilities entirely in 1993. Gosnell was eventually convicted of three counts of first-degree murder, among a host of lesser charges. The same abortion advocates who fought any meaningful regulation of abortion facilities, caught in a public relations nightmare, claimed the conviction was evidence of the need for even more “safe” facilities.
Just as the Gosnell trial was getting underway in Philadelphia in 2013, four former employees of Houston abortion doctor Douglas Karpen claimed that he routinely killed live infants who survived late-term abortions by twisting their heads off or slicing their throats. They provided graphic photographic evidence to bolster their claims. Residents of Harris County, where Houston is located, were shocked by the allegations. Harris County District Attorney (DA) Devon Anderson called for a Grand Jury to investigate. Stunningly, the Grand Jury came up with a no-bill, meaning there was not sufficient evidence to indict. That was a feat akin to being unable to find any sand at Daytona Beach. .
Anderson had been appointed by then-Gov. Rick Perry to replace her late husband as DA shortly before the investigation – and was reputed to be pro-life, so onlookers gave her the benefit of the doubt, given the confusion of transition and the understandable grief at the loss of her husband. In 2014, she ran to finish the unexpired term – and was elected with the support of Texas Right to Life. (Texas Right to Life, perhaps the most effective state pro-life organization in the country, has called the endorsement a mistake. Advocacy groups, when confronted with a first-time candidate, have to rely on their assertions rather than an objective record.
Anderson asserted she was pro-life, but several high-profile cases since have suggested she is either disingenuous or incompetent.) Since then, it was found that Chip Lewis, abortion doctor Karpen’s attorney, contributed $25,000 to Anderson’s 2014 campaign after the no-bill was returned.
For over two years, David Daleiden and his partner, Sandra Merritt, conducted an undercover video operation to determine if Planned Parenthood (PP) was engaged in illegally trafficking body parts of aborted children. Abortionists can recover costs for providing tissue to interested entities, but are legally barred from profiting from it. Since Gulf Coast Planned Parenthood of Houston, the largest single PP facility in the country was cited in the series of videos, The Harris County DA’s Office convened a Grand Jury to investigate the allegations. In an utterly incoherent ruling, the Grand Jury chose to indict Daleiden and Merritt
for attempting to purchase fetal body parts. They also chose to indict the pair for procuring false documents to provide them cover – thus also indicting them for NOT trying to actually purchase fetal tissue. On the other hand, Planned Parenthood, which the videos show were in the business of selling fetal tissue, was not indicted, nor were actual customers such as StemExpress. So the only people indicted here are those who tried to stop the illegal activity that the Harris DA was sent to investigate. According to this AP report, a prosecutor told PP Attorney Josh Shaffer the Grand Jury never even voted on criminal charges against his client. They did not ever even seriously consider charges against the organization they were charged to investigate.
DA Anderson, following the fallout from the strange decision, said her office just followed where the evidence led. Clearly, if the Grand Jury never even voted on charges, they were led where the prosecutor wanted them to go.
Some have complained that ADA Lauren Reeder is also a member of the local Board of Directors for PP. (ADA stands for Assistant District Attorney, not Abortion Defense Advocate, though residents of Harris County might be excused for some confusion on the point.) Anderson said that Reeder was not involved in either Grand Jury. I am inclined to believe that. I am far more interested in the background of ADA Sunni Mitchell. Sources in Houston tell me she ran the Grand Jury that indicted Daleiden and Merritt when it was supposed to investigate PP. Grand Jury proceedings are shrouded in official secrecy, but in the same AP article cited above, abortionist Karpen’s lawyer, Chip Lewis, says that the same ADA ran the investigation into his client two and a half years ago.
So let’s see here…according to credible reports, the ADA who could find no evidence against Karpen when four former employees were willing to testify that he twisted the heads off living infants and slit their throats to kill them and offered graphic photographic evidence to support it is once again assigned a high-profile abortion case. And in this one, she ignores the video evidence that PP was, indeed, illegally seeking to profit from the sale of fetal tissue and comes up with the absurd contention that Daleiden and Merritt were trying to buy what she also says PP was not selling, despite the evidence? And then she adds on an indictment for the cover ID’s, seeking to pound the pair for actually NOT doing what the first part of the indictment claims they were doing?! Utterly incoherent.
Twice, the same ADA leads Grand Jury investigations that seemed to ignore any actual evidence against PP. Anderson receives donations of $25,000 for her campaign from the lawyer from the first abortionist after the Grand Jury sees no evil. Despite the supposed secrecy of the Grand Jury, both the lawyer for the abortionist and for PP have no trouble publicly stating what prosecutors “told” them. I don’t think the Harris County DA’s office is broken. It looks more like it’s fixed.
Why the furious scrambling to throw up so much smoke? The fact is that employees of PP were caught dead to rights on these videos informally negotiating how to handle sales of fetal tissue, sales that are illegal. PP and its media and government allies have been frantically trying to throw smoke up to keep people from actually watching the videos.
This is a serious legal matter, not just one of public relations. If it can be legally proven that PP actively sought to profit from such sales, there would be serious criminal penalties and perhaps even some jail time. Government funding could be reduced to a trickle instead of the current torrent.
Organizations that have both big media and big government providing ideological cover for them benefit because the general public rarely gets an honest picture of what they are doing. But there is a downside as well: such organizations get so confident that the media and government will cover for them that they often become sloppy.
PP may have made a big strategic mistake in its initial panic when it filed a federal civil suit against Daleiden and his organization, the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) right after these allegations hit. Such a civil suit opens PP up to discovery investigation of much of its internal documents and financial reports by defendants. Typically, PP lists its recovery of costs for fetal tissue as a “consent” fee. If the consent fees are consistent and low, that would tend to bolster PP’s claim that they are merely recovering costs. If there are tiered consent fees, the higher ones could be evidence of profit for useful tissue. If there are other mysterious fees that are not easily explainable, it could lead to the same conclusion. If PP has nothing to hide, discovery does them no damage. But if they have gotten sloppy because of their confidence in media and governmental support, they may not be able to survive a forensic audit into their books.
So why not just drop the civil suit against Daleiden and CMP? After all the screaming PP has done and the threats it has made, it would be hard to spin it as anything other than a tacit admission of Daleiden’s charges.
Daleiden has been criticized by some pro-lifers for falsifying documents to give him cover for this investigation. That fails on secular grounds because the tradition in our society has been NOT to prosecute journalists who do undercover work. You cannot prosecute those who expose things the left does not like while refusing to prosecute those the right does not like. If this indictment became precedent, it would destroy investigative journalism in this country. Kevin Drum, a columnist for Mother Jones, is a critic of Daleiden’s. But he is chilled by this indictment, writing that:
“As much as I dislike what Daleiden did … Texas law seems to make it almost inherently illegal for a reporter or anyone else to try to expose illicit activity. That’s often going to require a solicitation to commit a crime; it’s frequently going to require some kind of bogus ID; and it’s pretty much always done with an intent to harm. But if you put those together, you’ve automatically got a felony, even if the target of your investigation turns out to be a mafia front.”
There is also criticism that has come from some pro-lifers on the religious grounds that you can’t use deception to reveal such things. While meatier than the secular criticism, this is also not as simple as it sounds. In the Bible, Judith deceived Holofernes to protect the Jews. The prostitute Rahab was a spy for the Jews – and rewarded for it. Joseph deceived his own brothers for a time, before providing relief for the Israelites. The Archangel Raphael deceived Tobit about his identity for most of the book in order to protect him. But most tellingly, Daleiden’s efforts were calculated to reveal the truth, while those of PP and their media and governmental allies are designed to conceal the truth. Support PP’s position and you support the suppression of truth; support Daleiden’s and you support its revelation.
I cut my teeth in Illinois politics. Frankly, this whole scenario in the Harris County DA’s Office would make a machine hack blush where I come from. I don’t say a machine hack wouldn’t put the fix in, but he would do it with a lot more skill.
Unfortunately, Houston seems to be a center for anti-Christian activism. When I walked through there during my pilgrimage, the Veteran’s Administration (VA) refused to allow veterans to put up crosses or even read Bible passages at funeral services at Veteran’s Cemeteries. More recently, former Houston Mayor Annise Parker tried to subpoena the sermons of Christian Ministers who had the temerity to oppose her LesbiGay legislation. Now, the Harris County DA’s office acts as if running interference for PP and abortionists is one of its primary missions. Fortunately, the good people of Houston have a habit of fighting back against such over-reach. The VA was forced to back down from its persecution of Christian veterans. Voters overwhelmingly rejected Parker’s LesbiGay initiative – in part because of her high-handed and coercive tactics.
This whole thing looks to me like an effort to intimidate Daleiden and and CMP, in order to set up a graceful stand-down. Do not be surprised if back channels are used to suggest that both the indictment in Texas and the civil suit in California will be dropped if Daleiden and company will just shut up and go away.
I encourage you to do four things that can make a difference here – and turn the tables on the persecutors:
1) Call or write Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Atty. Gen. Ken Paxton and ask them to open up an investigation into the Harris County DA’s office for prosecutorial misconduct in these cases.
– Gov. Greg Abbott
– PO Box 12428
– Austin, Texas 78711
– (512) 463-2000
Atty. Gen Ken Paxton
PO Box 12548
Austin, Texas 78711
2) Call or write Texas Right to Life and ask them not to just endorse against Anderson, but to target her race. If you can, send them a donation to help.
– Texas Right to Life
– 9800 Centre Parkway, Suite 200
– Houston, Texas 77036
– (713) 782-5433
4) By this weekend I will have set up links for all the Planned Parenthood Videos at the top bar of this site. Use your facebook account or other social media to repost a different video each week. PP and its allies are mounting these ferocious attacks because they do not want people to know the extent of the ghoulish things they are doing. Let the sunshine in. Let people know – in their own words captured on video – what they are up to.
Now is the time to make a stand. You can act to show Planned Parenthood, the establishment media, and governmental bullies, that the more they try to hide the truth, the more people will make sure it comes out.