Last week, California legislators did the bidding of their Planned Parenthood allies, sending a bill that would jail pro-life journalists to the desk of Governor Jerry Brown. From my article at The Stream:
AB 1671 has been opposed by media and civil rights groups, as well as prominent pro-life organizations, since it was introduced earlier this year. Violators could see three years in jail or thousands of dollars in fines for releasing undercover investigations to the public or the media.
While the bill formally protects all health care groups from undercover investigators, it was written by Planned Parenthood’s California chapter, which argues that the bill is necessary to protect abortion groups from pro-life agitation.
Pro-life advocates aren’t happy – but neither are the abortion industry’s normal media and advocacy allies:
Groups like the ACLU and the California Newspapers Publishers Association (CNPA), however, said the bill was unacceptable in part because it punished media outlets that used information gathered by undercover investigators. On Tuesday, this part was removed by sponsor Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, which led the CNPA to announce it changed its position to neutral.
“While we find it troubling that this bill potentially criminalizes speech, we realize this bill had political momentum and our immediate concern is to protect newspapers and journalists,” CNPA Legal Counsel Nikki Moore told The Los Angeles Times.
The ACLU did not immediately respond to The Stream’s request for comment as to whether its position had changed. The LA Times’ editorial page, however, condemned the current bill.
“But make no mistake, this measure would heap more criminal and civil penalties on making a secret recording — an act that’s already prohibited by state law, even when done in the public interest — simply to satisfy an interest group popular among Sacramento Democrats,” wrote the editors.
California is a two-party recording state, and as the Times’ editors’ noted, “state law already makes it a criminal violation of privacy, punishable by up to 3 years in prison, to use an electronic device to listen in on or record people without their permission.”
The editorial also highlighted the far-reaching consequences of this bill, such as giving carte blanche permission to jail whistleblower employees.
So what’s Planned Parenthood’s game here? Alienating allies isn’t normally on its list of goals – the ACLU, after all, is trying to force Catholic hospitals to provide abortions, and yet it came out against AB 1671.
Live Action’s Lila Rose probably has it right. In a statement, she noted that California is likely the experiment state, and if the law survives, other states are next. But the Times’ whistleblower point is also important – it’s not just journalists like David Daleiden and Rose who are at danger here. Will the abortion industry’s many whistleblowers be scared into silence out of fear of jail, if such anti-constitutional laws march their way nationwide?
For any objective observer, AB 1671 is a cinch to oppose — as Seton Motley told me for The Daily Caller, it’s “an assault on the First Amendment.” But the bill also highlights absurd hypocrisy for the abortion industry:
Both Planned Parenthood’s political arm and the national abortion group NARAL have opposed Daleiden’s work. NARAL, however, has done its own undercover investigations of pro-life pregnancy care clinics and used those investigations to work with legislators to target the life-affirming clinics, though many of the laws created after its investigations have either been thrown out or have run into difficulties in various courts.
Planned Parenthood Action, meanwhile, has backed the California FACT Act — which was instituted due to NARAL investigations and which pro-life groups oppose. The law mandates that pro-life clinics tell patients where to get abortions, and tell patients if they don’t have doctor’s on staff.