An Irvine based anti-abortion group received a double whammy Friday when California's governor signed a bill criminalizing the secret recordings of healthcare discussions and a federal judge in San Francisco refused to dismiss a lawsuit brought by Planned Parenthood.
Both AB 1671, the law that Gov. Jerry Brown signed, and U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick's ruling were inspired by the actions of the Center for Medical Progress, whose founder David Daleiden is accused of posing as someone else, secretly taping Planned Parenthood officials around the country and then distributing "gotcha" videos that are said to falsely portray the family planning clinics of profiting off dead fetuses and baby body parts.
A statement from Daleiden indicates the new California law does not apply to what he does.
“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,” he states. “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.”
One of Daleiden's anti-abortion comrades, Lila Rose of Arlington, Virginia-based Live Action, accused Brown of signing a bill to criminalize undercover journalism.
“We found out last week that instead of investigating Planned Parenthood for trafficking in baby body parts, California’s attorney general reportedly worked with Planned Parenthood to write a bill to suppress evidence of future abuses," says Rose in a statement referencing the family planning organization's sponsorship of the legislation. "Now, Gov. Brown, whom Planned Parenthood spent over $150,000 to get elected, has signed the bill, which jails journalists and whistle-blowers who expose such horrific acts.
“It’s precisely because of such investigative reporting that Planned Parenthood’s CEO was forced to admit to Congress last year that the abortion giant had accepted $60 for each child’s organ it had harvested through abortions."
Like Daleiden, whom she met when both were students fighting against the rights of women to choose, Rose has been accused of deceptively editing undercover footage of abortion clinics in an attempt to smear Planned Parenthood. Back in 2009, Rose told Orange County Republican strategist Mark Bucher of her plan to pose as a 13-year-old and, with her hidden camera in tow, hopefully catch Planned Parenthood breaking statutory-rape-reporting laws.
In her statement, Rose accuses Brown, the California legislature and Attorney General Kamala Harris of helping the nation’s largest abortion provider "continue to hide human rights abuses and potentially illegal activity from the very public that funds it."
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“Now that Planned Parenthood was successful in getting this anti-free speech law passed in California, it will only be emboldened to attempt to pass similar bans on press freedom all over the country.”
Obviously, that's not how Planned Parenthood sees it.
"Governor Brown sent a clear message to anti-abortion extremists that you cannot break the law in California or you will be held accountable," said Kathy Kneer, president of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, in a statement.
News organizations, including the California Newspapers Publishers Assn., which had opposed earlier versions of AB 1671, won late amendments assuring that only those involved in actually making the recording are subject to criminal prosecution for distributing it. Others, including reporters, may receive recordings from another source.
Orrick's decision that racketeering and other claims by Planned Parenthood against the Center for Medical Progress could move forward produced a statement from CMP's attorney Katie Short, who indicated her client was disappointed but that the judge's ruling exposes weaknesses in the lawsuit.