The candidates seeking the Republican presidential nomination condemned a grand jury’s decision to indict two people involved in the making of undercover videos that targeted Planned Parenthood.
“I’m disturbed,” Marco Rubio told CNN’s Sara Murray on Monday night. “We’ll need to learn more, but I’m 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.”
A Texas grand jury cleared Planned Parenthood in its investigation of the undercover videos, which touched off a political firestorm last summer. Instead, the grand jury indicted two of the activists involved in making the videos, including conservative activists David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt.
Daleiden is a project lead for the Center for Medical Progress, a group that produced the series of videos depicting Planned Parenthood officials discussing fetal tissue and appearing to talk about the price for such tissue.
Planned Parenthood maintains that it does not profit from the sale of fetal tissue and only recovers its costs. After the videos raised controversy, Planned Parenthood announced it would no longer accept reimbursement.
The videos were edited and in some cases contained footage that was not aborted fetuses at all. In one, Daleiden used footage of a still-born child he found online with a narration about a Planned Parenthood abortion of a fetus the same age.
Other Republican candidates weighed in on the news.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee tweeted, “Its a sick day in America when our govnt punishes those who expose evil w/ a cellphone—yet accommodates those who perform it with a scalpel.”
Carly Fiorina, who has often cited the videos in interviews and debates, reiterated Monday her pledge to repeal all public funding for Planned Parenthood.
“From what I read, somehow the charge is that they falsified government identities because that’s true obviously, that’s not good, but I only know what I read at this point, but I think it’s pretty clear that we now know what goes on in Planned Parenthood clinics,” she said. “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.”
Retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson was “saddened” by the decision, according to Larry Ross, his communication director.
“He is equally shocked that they instead decided to indict the individuals that exposed Planned Parenthood’s heinous and illegal activities,” Ross told CNN in an email. “As President, he will use the full weight of his office to not only cut off all federal funding for this organization, but also prosecute them for crimes against the unborn.”
CNN’s Tal Kopan, Jeremy Grisham, Christopher Lett, Drew Griffin and David Fitzpatrick contributed to this report.