California looks to criminalize undercover video of Planned Parenthood
A bill in the California legislature would quash any attempts to expose wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood via undercover recordings by making it illegal to videotape "healthcare providers" without their permission.
AB 1671, which has been backed by Planned Parenthood, would criminalize the publication of confidential interactions with state-licensed medical personnel, including abortionists and clinic staff, punishable by up to one year in prison and a $10,000 fine per violation.
Introduced by Los Angeles Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, the bill has received criticism from both pro-life activists and those who worry about its potential to chill free speech and investigative journalism.
Lila Rose, president and founder of Live Action, said the Planned Parenthood-backed legislation is an effort to decrease transparency at the nation’s largest abortion provider.
“For years, undercover journalists have documented Planned Parenthoodemployees covering up for sex traffickers, failing to report child sexual abusers, and trafficking in baby body parts,” Ms. Rose said in a statement. “Rather than be more transparent with the public, Planned Parenthood wants to make it a crime for the media to publish evidence that it might be doing something illegal.”
Ms. Rose pointed out that since Planned Parenthood receives public funding in order to keep its doors open, the public has a right to know what goes on behind those doors.
“A watchdog media is a cornerstone of a democratic society, and when the public funds half of the abortion giant’s operations, it has a right to know that its money isn’t being used to break the law or commit abuses,” she said.
On its website, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California Action Funds describes AB 1671 as a “key improvement that closes a current loophole in privacy laws around illegal videotaping.” The group could not be reached for comment.
Several state publishing and broadcasting groups have come out against the bill, which initially banned any secret recordings without the consent of all parties before being trimmed to apply only to content involving “health care providers.”
“AB 1671 seeks to criminalize the exchange of information,” Ms. Moore wrote. “It exposes the media and individuals alike to criminal penalties for simply pushing send button on an email. And it ties the hands of California journalists whose job is to report on issues of public concern.”
CNPA testified against AB 1671 during deliberations, and in a press release issued May 27, described the bill as a “content based regulation and presumptively unconstitutional.”
First Amendment issues aside, this is a outrageous attempt to prevent oversight of an organization that receives $500 million in taxpayer funds every year. If adopted, you can expect several other states to shield Planned Parenthood from scrutiny by criminalizing investigating illegal or unethical activities.
The CBS news show "60 Minutes" has made a living for 40 years going undercover to expose wrongdoing by government and private organizations. No one would think of making it illegal for them to do their jobs.
That's the insidious nature of this legislation. It is written to protect controversial organizations that practice medicine opposed by about half the population. Abortion may be legal. But citizens have a constitutional right to speak and act against it.
And as far as the rest of PP's transgressions, including counseling people how to avoid the law and trafficking in human body parts, we never would have discovered this wrongdoing without journalists going undercover and sureptitously recording their law breaking. Surely the same protections granted to "60 Minutes" must be extended to those looking to expose Planned Parenthood.