SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Officials with the California attorney general’s office and an attorney with the abortion giant Planned Parenthood collaborated to craft the recently-passed bill criminalizing undercover filming at abortion facilities, emails show.
The Life Legal Defense Foundation obtained copies of email correspondence between the two entities via a Public Records Act request and discovered that Planned Parenthood was very much a part in writing a law that would keep others from recording its activities.
The emails reveal that Beth Parker, attorney for Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, wrote to Jill Habig, special counsel to Attorney General Kamala Harris, to send her a number of drafts for the proposed bill.
“Attached is the language for AB 1671, proposed amendments to Penal Code section 632,” Parker wrote in one message. “I look forward to your thoughts about this.”
“Here’s the rewrite of the video tape bill,” she said in another, after providing an amended draft. “Let me know what you think.”
An email also shows that Robert Sumner, the special counsel for legislation in the attorney general’s office, reached out to Christina Romero, legislative director for Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, to ask what the organization’s “legislative priorities” were that session.
“[J]ust generally in the interest of being helpful where I can,” he wrote.
Ronald Rotunda, a professor at Chapman University in Orange, told the Washington Post this week that it appears that Harris’ office was “working with Planned Parenthood to protect it from criminal prosecution.”
“The state attorney general is supposed to represent the people of California, not a particular industry in California,” he said. “What would people say if the attorney general would be working with the local slaughterhouses to help them cover up instances of cruelty to animals?”
As previously reported, Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez (D-Echo Park) officially proposed the measure earlier this year in light of the undercover videos released by the Center for Medical Progress exposing Planned Parenthood’s provision of baby bodily organs to procurement companies.
“It is the intent of the legislature to enact legislation to prohibit any person from intentionally video recording a confidential communication, or disclosing or distributing that video-recording communication, without obtaining the consent of all parties to the communication,” A.B. 1671 reads.
It criminalizes any person who “intentionally discloses or attempts to disclose, or distributes or attempts to distribute, distributes, in any manner, in any forum, including, but not limited to, Internet Web sites and social media, or for any purpose, the contents of the a confidential communication with a health care provider.”
Violations may result in up to a year behind bars and/or a $2,500 fine. Repeat offenders may face up to a $10,000 fine.
The bill passed the state Assembly on Aug. 31 with a 52-26 vote, and moved on to the Senate, where it likewise was approved with a party line vote of 26-13.
Kathy Kneer, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, outlined in a statement following its passage, “We worked hard to craft a bill that balances the rights of privacy and the rights of free speech.”
Now, an attorney for David Daleiden of the Center for Medical Progress opines that the information revealed in the recently-obtained emails shows that there exists a “potential scandal” in Harris using state-paid staff to collude to target Daleiden.
Harris’ office had also searched Daleiden’s apartment in April and seized all of his recorded videos.
“Instead of investigating the abortion industry’s trade in fetal body parts, California Attorney General Kamala Harris is using valuable taxpayer resources to protect Planned Parenthood’s financial interests by criminalizing whistle-blower videos,” Alexandra Snyder, executive director of the Life Legal Defense Foundation, also remarked in a statement.
“… AB 1671 is a flagrant violation of First Amendment free speech rights, yet Harris is willing to ignore the Constitution in order to provide a safe harbor for Planned Parenthood’s illegal activities,” she said.
The bill has not yet been signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown, who must decide within the next few days whether to approve or veto the legislation.