California Governor Signs Bill to Jail Reporters Who Film Undercover Footage at Planned Parenthood

State   |   Steven Ertelt, Micaiah Bilger   |   Sep 30, 2016   |   6:50PM   |   Sacramento, CA

California Governor Jerry Brown has signed an oppressive, Planned Parenthood-backed bill to stop whistleblowers and journalists from conducting undercover investigations of any “health care providers.”

The Center for Medical Progress’s undercover video project did a lot of damage to Planned Parenthood when it revealed the abortion giant’s baby body parts operation. Through the California bill, Planned Parenthood is trying to stop anyone from trying to expose its horrendous practices ever again.

The legislation makes it a crime for anyone to record undercover footage of “health care providers,” including abortion facilities. An original version of the bill also would have punished third parties, including journalists and lawyers, who do nothing more than report or distribute the footage, the Courthouse News Service reports. Violations include stiff fines and jail time, according to the report.

California Assembly Bill 1671 is almost assuredly going to become the subject of a lawsuit not only from pro-life groups who wish to expose the abortion industry but other political groups, the media and defenders of free speech who want to engage in similar undercover journalism.

After Governor Brown signed the bill, David Daleiden emailed LifeNews:

“The Center for Medical Progress never recorded “confidential” communications, so California’s existing recording law and the new distribution provision are simply inapplicable to our work. However, it is clear that Planned Parenthood does not want to be held accountable to the public whose taxpayer money it gladly takes by the hundreds of millions, and will even attack freedom of speech and the freedom of the press in order to maintain its own arbitrary levels of secrecy.”

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The amended version removed the penalties for third parties who distribute the footage. But that was not enough even for some of Planned Parenthood’s allies. The Los Angeles Times editorial board published a strong op-ed against the bill. The American Civil Liberties Union of California, which often partners with Planned Parenthood on legal cases, also opposes the bill, citing First Amendment concerns about freedom of the press.

Here’s more from the report:

Kevin Baker, legislative director for the American Civil Liberties Union of California, said they share Planned Parenthood’s concerns about privacy, but the measure is written too broadly and could inadvertently catch people in criminal activity. Lawyers and journalists who share material from a whistleblower, he said, could be held liable for aiding and abetting.

Opponents point to [bill sponsor state Assemblyman Jimmy] Gomez’s own live Facebook video from a hospital last week, when he was treated for a broken elbow sustained in a legislative softball game, as an extreme example of the bill’s reach. Could the conversations captured in the background as Gomez discussed his injury be considered an infraction?

“You might be inadvertently recording conversations and posting them online in ways that violate the wording of this law,” Baker said. “That’s the problem of the bill. It isn’t limited.”

During the debate on Wednesday, state Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa, called out the hypocrisy of the bill.

“When ‘60 Minutes’ uses a hidden camera and discovers a unique story, it’s called outstanding journalism,” Moorlach said. “But when a private citizen does it and unmasks a very, very unpleasant truth, it’s a call for legislation.”

State Sen. Loni Hancock, D-Oakland, a pro-abortion lawmaker, also expressed concerns about the bill.

“Everyone is supportive of Planned Parenthood, because it was a terrible thing that happened to them,” Hancock said, but added that First Amendment rights “are absolutely core values.”

Lila Rose, president and founder of Live Action, had this to say about the California bill:

“For years, investigative journalists have recorded and exposed Planned Parenthood facilities across the country covering up for sex traffickers, failing to report child sexual abusers, and trafficking in baby body parts. Instead of being compelled to be more transparent with the public, taxpayer-funded Planned Parenthood wants to jail journalists and whistleblowers who record and distribute footage that shows it potentially breaking the law.

“Planned Parenthood is brazenly attacking the First Amendment, aided and abetted by California legislators who are protecting a major campaign donor,” she added.

Many predict that if the bill becomes law, California will face numerous lawsuits. An analysis of the bill by the California Senate Appropriations Committee listed similar concerns, Breitbart reports.

“Consequently, to the extent this measure contains language that could be challenged as unconstitutional, this bill could result in potentially significant costs associated with litigation, both to the court and to the Attorney General,” the analysis states.

However, Beth Parker, chief legal counsel for Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, defended the bill and blasted the Center for Medical Progress’s investigation as a “smear campaign.”

“It’s the distribution that really causes the harm,” she said. “With the Internet, false information like this can spread like wildfire.”

Rose said the bill does nothing to protect women in California.

“… instead, it puts Planned Parenthood above the law and lets it hide potentially illegal and abusive activity from the public view,” Rose said.

The bill returns to the state Assembly for a final approval of the amended bill. News outlets predict that the bill will pass and be sent to Gov. Jerry Brown’s desk for his signature.

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