Tens of thousands of pro-life supporters have signed a petition calling for the dropping of charges against Center for Medical Progress (CMP) founder David Daleiden and his assistant, Sandra Merritt, the Gospel Herald reported.
The two, who produced the undercover video showing Planned Parenthood selling baby body parts, were indicted on Monday by a Texas grand jury which charged them with tampering with government record.
At the same time, the grand jury cleared Planned Parenthood of charges of selling baby parts for profit, even though videos that CMP presented showed high-level Planned Parenthood employees admitting that they did engage in such illegal activities.
The pro-life community in the U.S.—joined by at least four Republican presidential candidates – has expressed shock and outrage at the totally unexpected turn of events, LifeNews reported.
Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee expressed his disgust at the jury's action, tweeting: "It's a sick day in America when our government punishes those who expose evil with a cellphone—yet accommodates those who perform it with a scalpel."
Dr. Ben Carson is "saddened" by the indictment, his communications director, Larry Ross, told CNN via e-mail.
"He is equally shocked that they [members of the jury] instead decided to indict the individuals that exposed Planned Parenthood's heinous and illegal activities," Ross wrote. "As president, he will use the full weight of his office to not only cut off all federal funding for this organisation, but also prosecute them for crimes against the unborn."
For her part, Carly Fiorina said the case against Daleiden undoubtedly is less certain than the one against Planned Parenthood. "Here's what I know: Planned Parenthood has been trafficking in body parts. Planned Parenthood has been altering late-term abortion techniques to this specific purpose of harvesting body parts," she said. "In President Fiorina's budget, there will not be a single dime for Planned Parenthood."
Senator Marco Rubio told CNN Monday night that he was "disturbed that while Planned Parenthood, who are the ones that were actually selling off these [body] parts were found having done nothing wrong, the people who tried to expose them are the ones that are now facing criminal charges."
Daleiden and Merritt each faces up to 20 years in prison on a felony charge of tampering with a governmental record, in addition to a misdemeanor count of attempting to purchase human organs as part of their three-year-long sting operation.
Speaking to LifeNews, Daleiden said the videos that he and Merritt made clearly showed Planned Parenthood had potentially broken several state and federal laws in their activities of selling aborted baby parts.
"The Center for Medical Progress uses the same undercover techniques that investigative journalists have used for decades in exercising our First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and the press, and follows all applicable laws," Daleiden said.
Leaders of pro-life groups expressed their full support to Daleiden. In an e-mail to LifeNews, Live Action President Lila Rose states, "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. CMP's investigation forced Planned Parenthood, a tax-funded billion dollar corporation, to admit it was harvesting and selling aborted baby parts."
Kristin Hawkins of Students for Life also e-mailed a statement to LifeNews: "It's horrifying that the Houston grand jury failed to indict the organisation who was willing to sell baby body parts yet somehow manages to indict the journalist who caught them in the act. The fact that an employee of the District Attorney is on the board of Planned Parenthood confirms an incestuous relationship between corrupt officials in the Harris County DA's office and the nation's largest abortion provider, whose livelihood is on the line should they be criminally charged with selling the body parts of aborted babies. I'm proud to stand with David, the Center for Medical Progress, and journalists everywhere on this one."