Despite Grand Jury's Planned Parenthood Ruling, State Says Investigation 'Is Ongoing'
Five stories that have North Texas talking: there's a free recovery program for victims of the Dec. 26 tornadoes; more Texas students are opting out of vaccinations; the future of Fair Park; and more.
Two anti-abortion activistswere indicted for Tampering with a Governmental Record on Monday. David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt recorded undercover videos last April accusing a Planned Parenthood clinic in Houston of selling fetal tissue, Houston Public Media reported. However, a grand jury cleared Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast of breaking the law.
Here’s more background from The Texas Tribune:
“The two people who visited the Houston facility — including a center where abortions are performed — identified themselves as executives with Biomax Procurement Services, a shell company created by the Daleiden's Center for Medical Progress. The undercover video, released in August, shows the two videographers discussing the administrative costs of harvesting fetal organs at various stages of gestation with Planned Parenthood staff. Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson launched a criminal investigation into Planned Parenthood in August at the urging of state leaders.
Actually, Gov. Greg Abbott said that investigation is still happening:
"The Health and Human Service Commission’s Inspector General and the Attorney General’s office have an ongoing investigation into Planned Parenthood’s actions. Nothing about today’s announcement in Harris County impacts the state’s ongoing investigation. The State of Texas will continue to protect life, and I will continue to support legislation prohibiting the sale or transfer of fetal tissue.”
So did Attorney General Ken Paxton:
“The fact remains that the videos exposed the horrific nature of abortion and the shameful disregard for human life of the abortion industry. The state’s investigation of Planned Parenthood is ongoing.”
And according to the Associated Press, Daleiden responded the charges saying, “his group uses the same undercover techniques as journalists and follows the law.” [Houston Public Media, AP, Texas Tribune]
- Survivors of the North Texas tornados can find help navigating the insurance process, working with FEMA and other post-natural disaster obstacles. Exactly one month following the devastation in Garland, Rowlett and other North Texas communities, Eastfield College and the Dallas County Community College District will hold a free tornado recovery program this afternoon for those affected by the storms. Four information sessions are scheduled from 2:45 to 3:45 p.m. and will be presented twice. See the full schedule and more event details.
- The number of Texas students opting out of vaccinations is more than four times higher than it was 10 years ago. And that trend is worrying public health officials. A decade ago, there were about 10,000 Texas students exempt from at least one federally recommended vaccination, according to the Associated Press. Last year, that number escalated to nearly 41,000. The AP reported Monday: “Texas is one of 18 states that allow parents to cite religion or personal beliefs in exempting their children from vaccination. Texas began allowing exemptions for reasons of conscience in 2003. Students who aren't fully vaccinated account for less than 1 percent of the 5.2 million students enrolled in Texas schools.” Read how California is making strides in the opposite direction. [AP, KQED]
- In case you missed it, former Gov. Rick Perry joined the #CruzCrew. The Texas Tribune reported Monday: “[Endorsing Cruz] comes more than four months after Perry dropped out of the race himself — and a week before the first-in-the-country caucus in Iowa. Cruz, a Republican U.S. senator from Texas, is locked in a tight battle there with billionaire Donald Trump.” According to The Tribune, Perry and Cruz aren’t just political partners, but seemingly good pals. The Tribune reported the pair have hung out a few times, and quoted Perry saying, “Cruz is ‘probably the best listener that I've ever been around in the political world.’" [The Texas Tribune]
- What will ‘make Fair Park work’? Leaders in architecture will discuss what the future of Fair Park will look like during a free and public panel tonight. The Dallas Morning News’ architecture critic Mark Lamster will moderate a conversation among these four guests, according to the DMN: business executive and public servant Walt Humann Sr., who headed the creation of DART; architectural historian, preservationist and author Virginia McAlester; artist and South Dallas Cultural Center manager Vicki Meek; and Don Williams, philanthropist and chairman emeritus of Trammell Crow Co.
The event, “Making Fair Park Work,” will begin at 6:30 p.m. with an informal reception at 6 at the Hall of State. More information. [Dallas Morning News]