Another, yes another, disturbing bill is being proposed in the California legislature. What’s going on in that state?
Those who saw the videos recorded by the Center for Medical Progress that exposed Planned Parenthood’s baby-parts-for-cash racket will never forget them. Not knowing they were being filmed, Planned Parenthood officials matter-of-factly discussed making profit from the salvaged organs and tissue of aborted babies.
Though Planned Parenthood escaped any meaningful sanction for what the videos revealed, the efforts of the Center for Medical Progress left a mark. So in response, Planned Parenthood and its sympathizers have harassed and have tried to even punish those responsible for its embarrassment.
The latest example is Assembly Bill 1671, currently under consideration in the California legislature. This bill would, if it becomes law, “make it a crime for a person who unlawfully eavesdrops upon or records a confidential communication. . . with a health care provider . . . to intentionally disclose or distribute the contents of the confidential communication without the consent of all parties. . . unless specified conditions are met.”
The key words here are “unlawfully,” “health care provider,” and “disclose or distribute.” It is already unlawful in California to eavesdrop on or record a confidential communication without the other parties’ consent. Thus, if the Center for Medical Progress videos had been made in California, they could have been charged with a crime.
Thus, protecting people from non-law enforcement “sting” operations is clearly not this bill’s intention, since that’s already covered in the law.
The bill’s true purpose is to protect Planned Parenthood from any further embarrassment, including in those instances where people are willing to go to jail to expose their wrongdoing. This was made clear in the original draft, which said that “the bill would also make it a crime for any person to aid and abet any person in the commission of these offenses.”
As originally written, the bill could have been applied to news organizations, or even BreakPoint. Anyone who quoted or linked to the videos could be charged with abetting in their distribution.
This was too much for even critics of the Center for Medical Progress. As the LA Times wrote, “The proposal had civil libertarians, news organizations and filmmakers in an uproar, and rightly so. Even if you decry the Center for Medical Progress’ work, the version of AB 1671 that reached the Senate floor could have criminalized sharing or reporting on legitimate, valuable and even potentially life-saving undercover video work.”
The amended bill now limits criminal penalties to those who actually make the video, but even the Times editorial board remains rightly concerned: “Why a healthcare provider merits special protection,” they wrote, “even when discussing things that don’t involve patient privacy is mystifying.”
Well actually, it’s not so mystifying. As the Times later added: “make no mistake, this measure would heap more criminal and civil penalties on … 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.”
Nor is this bill consistent. Planned Parenthood wants to be considered a healthcare provider in this bill, but wants none of the oversight required of the surgical healthcare providers, for example, in Texas. All of this is further evidence, as if any more were needed, that to its committed advocates, the right to an abortion trumps virtually every other freedom: of speech, of religion, of the press, and the public interest more generally.
All of which prompts a disturbing question: Even if you don’t believe abortion takes a human life, does that so-called “right” that demands such illiberal protections have any place in a liberal democratic society?