RIO DE JANEIRO — Across Latin America, calls to loosen some of the most restrictive abortion laws in the world in the face of the Zika virus outbreak are gaining momentum but encountering strong and entrenched opposition.
In El Salvador, where abortions are banned under any circumstance, the health minister has argued for a revision of the law because of the dangers the virus poses to fetal development.
In Colombia, an organized movement to lift restrictions on abortion has gained allies in the government but has run into determined opposition from religious authorities. The same is happening in Brazil — and some doctors say that as a consequence, illegal, back-alley abortions are on the rise.
Nearly everywhere in Latin America, including in those countries hit hardest by Zika, women who wish to terminate their pregnancies have few legal options. But as U.N. health officials have projected as many as 4 million infections in the Americas this year, activists are pressing lawmakers to act as swiftly as possible to ease rigid restrictions.
AUSTIN, Texas — A Houston grand jury investigating undercover footage of Planned Parenthood found no wrongdoing Monday by the abortion provider and instead indicted anti-abortion activists involved in making the videos that provoked outrage among Republican leaders nationwide.
David Daleiden, founder of the Center for Medical Progress, was indicted on a felony charge of tampering with a governmental record and a misdemeanor count related to purchasing human organs. Another activist, Sandra Merritt, was also indicted on a charge of tampering with a governmental record. It’s the first time anyone in the group has been charged criminally since the videos started surfacing last year.
In a statement announcing the indictment, Harris County District Attorney Devon Anderson didn’t provide details on the charges, including what record or records were allegedly tampered with and why Daleiden faces a charge related to buying human organs. Anderson’s office said it could not provide details until the documents charging Daleiden and Merritt were formally made public, which was expected later Monday.
“We were called upon to investigate allegations of criminal conduct by Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast,” Anderson’s statement said. “As I stated at the outset of this investigation, we must go where the evidence leads us.”
The anti-abortion Center for Medical Progress has released several covertly shot videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing the handling of fetal tissue from abortions. The center claims that Planned Parenthood illegally sold fetal tissue; Planned Parenthood officials have denied any wrongdoing and have said the videos were misleadingly edited.
It seems like the grand jury agreed with Planned Parenthood. Sometimes people get so wrapped up in what they believe that they justify altering facts and the truth. Apparently this is what happened here.