The California Legislature this year passed AB 1671, a bill designed to muzzle journalists who have worked to expose the abortion industry. This is another piece of legislation that we seriously hope Governor Brown will veto, as it places unnecessary, additional burdens upon journalists in order to protect the corrupt practices of abortion providers.
AB 1671 essentially places additional criminal penalties upon individuals who record private conversations without permission (something that is already illegal), and newly criminalizes the distribution of such conversations to media outlets. It also allows those who are harmed by the distribution of such recordings to sue the journalist who gave the recording to media outlets.
The bill is clearly a response to the revelations from the summer of 2015 from David Daleiden and the Center for Medical Progress, who released undercover videos indicating that Planned Parenthood facilities were possibly violating federal and state laws by selling the body parts of aborted children for profit. This is why Planned Parenthood was such a strong proponent of AB 1671, and worked tirelessly to ensure its passage. They wanted to ensure that there would be a way to prosecute and sue individuals like David Daleiden and Lila Rose from Live Action for exposing the abortion industry’s corrupt practices.
The fact is, this bill is an attack on free speech. That’s not just our opinion–it’s the opinion of the abortion-supporting ACLU, who opposed this bill as an attack on the free-speech rights of journalists. Other broadcasting and journalism organizations expressed their opposition at various points during the legislative year, due to how it can stifle the work of investigative journalists who expose the corrupt practices of powerful corporations.
The fact is that Planned Parenthood receives enormous amounts of federal and state funding, and deserves all the scrutiny it receives. This is an attempt to silence whistleblowers who exposed that they were engaging in exceedingly unethical, if not downright criminal, activity. Existing California laws already protect confidential speech. The new crimes, rights of action, and penalties AB 1671 authorizes do nothing to preserve privacy, but a lot to chill free speech and investigative reporting. We strongly urge the governor to veto this bill!