Yesterday David Daleiden faced the first of the charges against him: a misdemeanor for offering to buy human organs. Ironically, he was indicted for the offense, along with Sandra Merritt, by a Harris County grand jury set up to investigate his own claims about Planned Parenthood illegally trading in human organs. Judge Diane Bull has dismissed the case, and major Pro-Life news organizations, along with the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), have been quick to celebrate the victory.
What those particular media outlets are less quick to point out is the reason the case was dismissed. You can read the court decision document for yourself. It quotes the relevant law in subsection (b) as follows:
“A person commits an offense if he or she knowingly or intentionally offers to buy, offers to sell, acquires, receives, sells, or otherwise transfers any human organ for valuable consideration.”
The reason that the case was dismissed is stated as “Subsection (c) clearly and explicitly states an exception as contemplated by Section 2.02. It is therefore treated as an element of the offense. The indictment does not reference this exception in any way. The indictment’s failure to negate this exception renders it void.”
Subsection (c) reads as follows:
“It is an exception to the application of this section that the valuable consideration is: (1) a fee paid to a physician or to other medical personnel for services rendered in the usual course of medical practice or a fee paid for hospital or other clinical services; (2) reimbursement of legal or medical expenses incurred for the benefit of the ultimate receiver of the organ; or (3) reimbursement of expenses of travel, housing, and lost wages incurred by the donor of a human organ in connection with the donation of the organ”
So this is a fairly reasonable piece of legal code. It tries to make profiteering off of human organs illegal, but avoids penalizing hospitals, doctors, or support staff carrying out their normal duties.
Apparently, the indictment that came from the grand jury failed to mention subsection (c), so the judge decided it wasn’t valid. The paperwork wasn’t done correctly, so the indictment was useless. That is not a commentary on Daleiden’s innocence or guilt. In fact, as the Texas Tribune reports, Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson has pointed out that “the basis for the judge’s ruling was not raised by the defense at any time.” Sounds more like dumb luck than a solid defense.
But what are the facts? Time has reported that Daleiden did, in fact, send Planned Parenthood a contract offering to pay $1600 per tissue specimen. Planned Parenthood didn’t accept the offer. That’s more than 10X the price they quoted to recoup costs for providing tissue to other organizations (which is entirely legal). If Daleiden’s defense wants us to believe that Planned Parenthood broke the law here, certainly Daleiden did.
But no court so far has found Planned Parenthood or Daleiden guilty of the offense. The prosecutors are apparently not appealing the case, instead favouring to focus on the other charges against Daleiden, so it’s doubtful the matter will ever be further investigated legally. However, I would argue that it is important for Pro-Life people to decide for themselves if they can morally support his actions.
If he is truly guilty, that should be unsettling to Pro-Life advocates, who are mostly Christian and have an express commitment to truth and honesty. One can’t stand for long on a foundation of deception and merely getting away with breaking the law while still claiming the moral high ground.