SACRAMENTO, Calif., May 26, 2016 — Planned Parenthood is sponsoring legislation in California to criminalize the publication of evidence of its business practices, which include harvesting and selling the body parts of aborted babies.
Assembly Bill 1671 would make it a crime to publish confidential conversations with health care providers—even if those conversations disclose criminal activity. Moreover, the bill includes volunteers and independent contractors of abortion clinics as “health care providers.” This means anyone who posts a photo or video of an interaction with an abortion clinic employee or volunteer—including clinic escorts—could be prosecuted under the bill. AB 1671 provides for penalties of up to $10,000 per violation and one year in state prison.
Legislative analysts expressed concern that the bill would violate the First Amendment, which “gives the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in democracy.” The U.S. Supreme Court has held that “prior restraints on speech and publication are the most serious and least tolerable infringement on First Amendment rights.”
The original, broader version of the bill, which did not single out health care providers for protection, drew opposition from the California Newspaper Publishers Association and animal rights activists. After the bill was amended to more specifically target anti-abortion investigative activities, these groups withdrew their opposition. Neither the ACLU nor any other civil liberties or journalism organization has voiced opposition.
AB 1671 is a direct attack on the efforts of David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress to expose Planned Parenthood’s illegal practice of selling fetal body parts for profit. Since the release of Daleiden’s videos, eleven states have voted to defund the nation’s largest abortion provider.
“California legislators are willing to trample on the right to free speech to protect Planned Parenthood’s financial interests,” said Alexandra Snyder, Life Legal Defense Foundation’s Executive Director. “AB 1671 violates the First Amendment rights of all Californians and we urge legislators to oppose this unconstitutional bill.”
AB 1671 passed the Assembly Appropriations Committee yesterday and appears to be headed to the Assembly floor for a vote.