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Planned Parenthood Backs Bill to Punish Undercover Journalism

Planned Parenthood is behind a new proposed California law that would criminalize publishing undercover evidence of its practices, even those that might be considered illegal.

Assembly Bill 1671 would make it illegal to publish conversations with abortion providers and their staff about their practices.

The legislation was introduced by California Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles), who has a 100 percent pro-abortion rating from Planned Parenthood, and last year was the recipient of the Planned Parenthood Los Angeles Champion of Choice Award.

Life Legal Defense Foundation explains:

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.”

“For years, undercover journalists have documented Planned Parenthood employees covering up for sex traffickers, failing to report child sexual abusers, and trafficking in baby body parts,” says Lila Rose, president and founder of pro-life organization Live Action. “A watchdog media is a cornerstone of a democratic society, and when the public funds half of the abortion giant’s operations, it has a right to know that its money isn’t being used to break the law or commit abuses.”

Rose continued:

Planned Parenthood commits nearly one third of all abortions in this country — over 320,000 each year.  Americans understand that abortion is a grave act that takes a human life, and undercover journalists have been the ones who have exposed the many abuses that often accompany it.

This outrageous bill is a direct attack on the freedom of the press and is blatantly unconstitutional. This bill puts Planned Parenthood’s interests ahead of the First Amendment, its clients, and the public, and it would keep evidence of illegal or abusive activity hidden from nearly everyone’s view.

The bill comes in the wake of an undercover video series by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), which exposed Planned Parenthood’s apparent practices of selling the body parts of aborted babies on the open market and alleged altering of the position of babies during abortions in order to obtain the most intact organs. The reports have triggered a congressional investigation.

Though Planned Parenthood has denied any wrongdoing in its sale of body parts, the group also released a statement in October announcing it will no longer accept payments for aborted fetal tissue. The organization and its left-wing media supporters continue to insist the videos, produced by CMP, were “deceptively edited.”

However, a Democrat opposition research firm named Fusion – hired by Planned Parenthood itself to review the videos – said while its analysts observed the videos had been edited, “the analysis did not reveal widespread evidence of substantive video manipulation.”

Additionally, Fusion noted, “[A]nalysts found no evidence that CMP inserted dialogue not spoken by Planned Parenthood staff.”

An analysis by Coalfire, a third-party forensics company hired by Alliance Defending Freedom, found that the videos were “not manipulated” and that they are “authentic.”

CMP project lead David Daleiden and his colleague Sandra Merritt were indicted while Planned Parenthood was cleared of any wrongdoing by a Harris County, Texas grand jury that did not even vote on Planned Parenthood’s case. While the grand jury was marketed as a way to discover what Planned Parenthood was really up to, it turned into a means of punishing the undercover filmmakers.

Two pro-choice law professors wrote that the indictment of Daleiden and Merritt amounted to “a stunning act of legal jujitsu” and was a “deeply disturbing” outcome both for the First Amendment and undercover citizen journalists attempting to expose corruption.

In California, state Attorney General Kamala Harris, a U.S. Senate candidate whose office conducted a raid on Daleiden’s apartment in April, has a campaign website that features a petition asking voters to support and protect Planned Parenthood’s federal funding. Harris received $15,000 from Planned Parenthood during her re-election campaign in 2014.

Harris’ office seized Daleiden’s personal property after a Los Angeles Times columnist challenged the attorney general for dragging her feet on an indictment of Daleiden.

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