HOUSTON - Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson announced Wednesday that her office will start a criminal investigation into Planned Parenthood. Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick asked for the DA's office to open an immediate criminal investigation of after a fifth video surfaced involving activities related to the organization.
The Harris County District Attorney's Office and Texas Rangers have agreed to assist in the investigation.
"It is not clear at this time what, if any, crimes have been committed at the Gulf Coast facility. That is why I am initiating this investigation." Anderson said. "As we begin this process, the first step will be to obtain the complete unedited version of the video that has prompted this investigation."
An anti-abortion group released the undercover video alleging fetal organ sales that activists say was shot inside a Houston Planned Parenthood clinic.
Tuesday's video is the fifth the center has recently released, but the first from Texas. It appears consistent with footage Planned Parenthood previously announced might have been secretly recorded.
"You're going to see evidence in it of how Planned Parenthood is actually willing to sell fully intact fetuses to buyers of aborted fetal tissue," said David Daleiden, with the Center for Medical Progress.
The Center for Medical Progress' footage shows people pretending to be from a company that procures fetal tissue for research touring the Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast Clinic. The staffer leads the two undercover activists on a tour of the clinic. What they're shown includes recently collected fetuses.
Gov. Greg Abbott called the video "repulsive and unconscionable."
Lt. Gov. Patrick wants a criminal investigation launched.
"A fifth undercover video has been released by the Center for Medical Progress discussing the gruesome and barbaric work of Planned Parenthood and what appears to be its profiteering from selling body parts from aborted babies. In this video, taped at the Houston Planned Parenthood Center, the Gulf Coast Director of Research, Melissa Farrell, discusses selling entire aborted fetuses for profit.
"Her quote, 'If we alter our process, and we are able to obtain intact fetal cadavers, then we can make it part of the budget.'
"As a result, this morning I am asking Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson to immediately initiate a criminal investigation of Planned Parenthood.
"We recently held a hearing in the Texas Senate Health and Human Services Committee to begin our own discovery of the facts involving this issue. Planned Parenthood did not accept an invitation to testify.
"This newest video makes it clear it is time for prosecutors to launch a criminal investigation in Harris County immediately," Patrick said in a released statement.
"I want to assure everyone in Houston that I will use every resource allocated to this office to conduct a thorough investigation and should we find that laws were broken, we will prosecute to the fullest extent of the law." Anderson said.
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