There has been much ado about David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt's indictment by a Harrison County grand jury. Many in the pro-life camp are outraged that the CMP investigators were indicted and not Planned Parenthood. Many people who favor killing unborn babies were quick to claim Daleiden and Merrit's indictments as vindication that Planned Parenthood, who rips apart live babies in the womb, did no wrong. Still others have worried about a possible conflict of interest or a chilling effect on undercover reporting.
These people are all wrong and because I'm a nice guy I'm going to tell you why.
1) There is no conflict of interests
The low hanging fruit first: Lauren Reeder, the Harris County prosecutor who is a Planned Parenthood director, is not involved in the case. The decision to take the evidence to a grand jury was made by Devon Anderson, the District Attorney. In and of itself that fact would be less than convincing, however, Anderson is pro-life and was even endorsed by the Texas Right to Life PAC in 2014. The chances of a pro-life DA being out to unjustly prosecute pro-life undercover reporters is... well, low.
And while I don't know Anderson, Murray Newman, a Bryan Texas native and former Felony District Court Chief for Harris County, has this to say:
Make no mistake about this, Devon Anderson is about as pro-life as they come. I’ve known her for a little over 15 years, and her personal beliefs very much align with the Republican Party. No one could ever accuse her of being a dreaded R.I.N.O. I’ve seen her give speeches at Republican functions that would make Ronald Reagan pale in comparison. She doubtlessly knew this would not sit well with her party, but she proceeded with integrity.
Anderson, from what little I know of her, seems like the type of DA you'd want: someone devoted to uncovering the truth even if its uncomfortable. She says about the investigation:
"As I stated at the outset of this investigation, we must go where the evidence leads us," said Anderson, a Republican. "All the evidence uncovered in the course of this investigation was presented to the grand jury. I respect their decision on this difficult case."And what evidence is that exactly? Well, that brings us to point two...
2) The CMP reporters broke the law
Daleiden is accused of emailing Planned Parenthood an offer to buy fetal tissue for $1,600. Under Texas law this is a misdemeanor. As far as PP not being charged with offering to sell, well, its entirely possible for one to make an offer to buy from a person who has no intent to sell. The law gets tricky here as PP is allowed to charge for the costs of procuring and transferring dead baby parts but they are not actually allowed to sell them. As disgusting as the videos of PP are, I don't recall a clear cut offer from PP to sell dead baby parts.
Considering the DA Anderson's pro-life credentials, it seems likely that if she had found evidence of PP actually offering to sell dead baby parts that she would have presented that as well to the grand jury. Since this hasn't happened it seems likely that the evidence doesn't exist. (This of course does nothing to change the fact that Planned Parenthood rips apart unborn babies and calls it healthcare.)
Anyway, the more serious charge leveled against Daleiden and Merritt is their use of falsified California drivers licenses. This led to the indictment for "tampering with a governmental record with intent to cause harm", which is a felony.
Now we wait for the results of the trial. Though its hard to see how they wouldn't be found guilty given what we know about how the videos were produced.
And that's important because...
3) If you break the law while undercover... you break the law
This should be pretty obvious.
Undercover journalism is not some special protected class of journalism. If you go break the law... well you've broken the law. You don't get a pass because you wrote a story or filmed a video about your experience breaking the law!
And if you break the law, you should accept the consequences. Because...
4) Rule of law is important
Watch this before you continue:
Pay attention, this is the important part.
Some laws are unjust and need to be torn down, but one can hardly argue that a law against forging government issued IDs is one such unjust law. Nor can you argue that it is just to break a good law in order to bring about the end of an unjust law... the ends do not justify the means! Suppose you decided that the ends did justify the means, you've now placed yourself in the position of deciding when, and when not, to enforce the laws. You've made yourself higher than the law, and in the process made it meaningless.
Abortion is evil, and those who willfully facilitate it are accessories to evil. Shining light on evil is a good thing, but doing so doesn't grant carte blanche to break the law. The CMP reporters forged identities, this is pretty much certain. If the DA chooses to pursue charges she will be entirely justified in doing so because by doing so she is protecting the one thing that prevents all of us from being blown over. She is protecting the rule of law.
And God knows we need more DAs willing to stand up for the rule of law! The rule of law is under constant attack in this country. Hillary Clinton stored classified emails on a private server in violation of the law... and yet she's not prosecuted. The government keeps a secret list of names (names, not identities!) and then uses it to deny people the right to fly, while providing no appeals process or even any way to determine if your name is on the list! These are merely two examples out of countless many.
Any time we find someone in a position of power who respects the law is a time for celebration.
6) We should be slow to anger
Law is tricky business. Getting it right is hard and requires, like, reading comprehension and stuff. Which of course is far too much effort for today's twenty-four hour outrage cycle. There are listicles to write and clicks to be baited and by gosh these articles won't post themselves to facebook!
But its important to slow down, breathe, and actually comprehend what's happening. I would love nothing more than for Planned Parenthood to stop murdering babies. Or, failing that, to lose all federal funding until such a time as they stop murdering babies. But that doesn't change the fact that Daleiden and Merritt forged government ids and lied about who they were to gain access to private facilities. If they are convicted I hope they have the grace and composure to accept their sentences with dignity and to continue the work they've started, even if it means leading from their prison cells.
If Planned Parenthood is indeed guilty of selling baby parts I hope enough evidence surfaces to bring charges. In the meantime my fellow pro-lifers and I will do well to respect the rule of law, to continue to engage with the culture, and to pray for an end to abortion.
And if you're reading this and you think its okay to kill babies, get yourself to a confessional post haste.