Planned Parenthood Wants to Make Pro-Life Undercover Investigations Illegal in California
Abortion supporters and opponents are attacking a bill Planned Parenthood claims is needed to protect abortionists and their patients from harm, but which its critics claim is an unconstitutional restriction on freedom of speech. Describing the Center for Medical Progress’s expose of the abortion industry as a “series of reckless and malicious videos as part of a national smear campaign to spread lies about Planned Parenthood,” the head of California’s Planned Parenthood chapters claimed the new bill would close the legal “loophole” that allows it.
The bill, called AB [Assembly Bill] 1671, does not mention abortion or abortionists but covers “health care providers,” which it defines broadly. It seems tailored to prevent pro-life investigators from engaging in the same tactics taken by undercover investigators of all stripes, including journalists investigating other industries. It passed a state committee 14-6, with all Democrats on the committee in support.
Sponsored by Los Angeles assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, a prominent Planned Parenthood supporter, AB 1671 adds to the existing law against eavesdropping a law making it illegal to “disclose or distribute the contents of the confidential communication without the consent of all parties to the confidential communication unless specified conditions are met” — including the consent of the person being recorded. It would also “make it a crime for any person to aid or abet any person in the commission of those offenses.”
The punishment for a first offense would be a fine of up to $2,500 and/or imprisonment for up to 3 years.
The Less Transparent Planned Parenthood
“For years, undercover journalists have documented Planned Parenthood employees covering up for sex traffickers, failing to report child sexual abusers and trafficking in baby body parts,” said Live Action founder Lila Rose, who has herself gone undercover to investigate abortion providers. “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.”
AB 1671 is opposed by multiple media groups, with the California Newspaper Publishers Association (CNPA) calling it “an unconstitutional restriction on speech.” CNPA has been joined by California Broadcasters and the Motion Picture Association in its opposition. A pro-abortion investigative reporter described the bill as “an attack on all First Amendment rights.”
Rose said that since taxpayers provide nearly half of Planned Parenthood’s annual revenues, the organization should be subject to more, not less, transparency. The public “has a right to know that its money isn’t being used to break the law or commit abuses,” she declared. “This bill puts Planned Parenthood’s interests ahead of the First Amendment, its clients, and the public, and it would keep evidence of illegal or abusive activity hidden from nearly everyone’s view.”