Pro-life groups and Republican lawmakers blasted what they described as a "politically motivated" decision after a Texas grand jury decided Monday not to indict Planned Parenthood over videos on fetal tissue harvesting – and instead indict the video-makers.
One group, LiveAction, even called for a special prosecutor, saying the District Attorney's office in the case should have recused itself since one of the prosecutors is a board member for a Planned Parenthood affiliate.
“It is unacceptable that the office did not recuse itself to eliminate any and all questions of potential bias,” LiveAction president Lila Rose said in a statement.
On Monday, a Harris County grand jury indicted David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt on charges of tampering with a governmental record, a second-degree felony with a possible sentence of 20 years in prison. The indictment also charged Daleiden with trying to purchase or sell human organs, a misdemeanor, presumably because he had offered to buy a fetus on camera in his effort to uncover wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood staff members.
Rose's statement referenced Harris County prosecutor Lauren Reeder, the Planned Parenthood affiliate board member. Though the DA's office months ago assured she wouldn't be involved in the case, conservative critics like Operation Rescue President Troy Newman said it’s not enough.
Newman, who previously served on the board of the Center for Medical Progress which released the Planned Parenthood videos, echoed Rose's call for a special prosecutor.
LifeSite’s Ben Johnson also told FoxNews.com he was “shocked” by Monday’s indictment and called the evidence against Planned Parenthood “overwhelming.”
Johnson claimed a clear conflict of interest had produced a biased conclusion.
Planned Parenthood's allies, though, cheered the decision as affirmation that the group has wrongly been the subject of a partisan witch hunt.
Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said the decision "undercuts the entire Republican attack on Planned Parenthood."
Daleiden made a series of recordings over a three-year period using a fake name and hidden cameras to document conversations between him and top-level Planned Parenthood abortion providers. The first video was released in July and seemed to link the pro-choice organization to unlawful trafficking in fetal tissue.
As a result, five congressional committees started investigations into Planned Parenthood. None have produced criminal findings.
Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., author of the House-passed “Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015,” said she was “profoundly disappointed” in the indictments.
“It is a sad day in America when those who harvest the body parts of aborted babies escape consequences for their actions, while the courageous truth-tellers who expose their misdeeds are handed down a politically motivated indictment instead,” she said in a written statement, adding that Monday’s news “will not deter our efforts in Congress to hold Planned Parenthood accountable.”
Rose, who has been accused of falsifying videos against Planned Parenthood in the past, argues Daleiden is the victim of a corrupt judicial system.
“David Daleiden and his team have done a tremendous public service by exposing the horrific crimes against humanity that Planned Parenthood hides behind closed doors,” she said.
Planned Parenthood has strongly denied any allegations of illegal behavior and said the videos were manipulated to make the organization look bad.
“As the dust settled and the truth comes out, it’s become totally clear that the only people who engaged in wrongdoing are the criminals behind this fraud, and we’re glad they’re being held accountable,” Planned Parenthood spokesman Eric Ferrero said following Monday’s indictment.