California journalists, beware. A new Planned Parenthood-backed state bill is threatening to compromise the First Amendment freedom of the press.
California Assembly Bill 1671 would make it a crime to publish undercover video footage of “health care providers” and punish third parties, including journalists, who report or distribute the footage, the Courthouse News Service reports.
The bill is the abortion industry’s attempt to keep anyone from trying to expose its horrendous practices in California, as the Center for Medical Progress began doing a little more than a year ago. Planned Parenthood is still reeling from the undercover videos that exposed its baby body parts trade, and it doesn’t want to have to face another situation like that again.
The California bill does not just target journalists who record the undercover videos. According to CNS, “a journalist receiving and posting footage from an anonymous source could be punished by the state as well as be opened up to potential civil lawsuits. Whistleblowers would not be exempt from the proposal either, regardless of how they obtained the illegal footage.”
First-time violations include fines of up to $2,500, but repeat offenders could face jail time of up to one year, according to the report.
When CNS contacted the bill’s sponsor state Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, he refused to comment and referred the news outlet to the bill’s sponsor, Planned Parenthood.
“So Planned Parenthood must run the California legislature,” Bob Livingston noted on his blog, Personal Liberty.
The Libertarian Republic’s Jacob Nestle described the bill as Orwellian.
“If you’re a journalist in Cali and 1671 is passed, you may as well pack your bags. Unless you’ve sold out, because then business just got easier,” Nestle wrote.
This is exactly what Orwell would have recognized as the first step down the dark path towards totalitarianism. It takes one step to open a floodgate of abuses. The freedom of the press, as annoying as it can be sometimes, is necessary. It allows The New York Times to write as many editorials as they want for Hillary Clinton. But it also lets me write for The Libertarian Republic. It allows for a diversity of opinions to enter the world on a large platform.
California’s AB 1671 is step one. The endgame? The Thought Police.
California media outlets also are concerned about the bill. However, the California Newspaper Publishers Association has been working with Planned Parenthood to try to narrow the focus of the bill through amendments, according to the report. In addition to other concerns, the association’s lawyers said the bill could punish journalists who don’t participate in the illegal recording but simply watch it and pass it on to their superiors.
Nikki Moore, legal counsel for the newspapers association, told CNS that the series of amendments to the bill are not protective enough for state journalists.
“The scenario that [Planned Parenthood] is trying to prevent is a very specific one,” Moore said. “We’ve been trying to help them find a way to accomplish their goals while not infringing on the First Amendment or creating liabilities for media.”
So far, however, they have failed to reach a solution that satisfies mainstream media outlets; and legal experts predict that the state will face lawsuits if AB 1671 becomes law, according to the report.
Even the American Civil Liberties Union of California, which often partners with Planned Parenthood on legal cases, is opposed to the bill, the report states.
However, Planned Parenthood officials believe the bill does not go far enough. According to Courthouse News Service, California Planned Parenthood leaders also want legislation that will punish third parties who spread “confidential communication.”
The bill already passed the California Assembly. It is awaiting action in the state Senate.