California Forum

Planned Parenthood bill’s message: Threats, violence not tolerated

Kathy Kneer
Kathy Kneer

Gov. Jerry Brown should sign Assembly Bill 1671 notwithstanding The Bee’s opposition (“Veto Planned Parenthood bill”; Editorial, Sept. 13). The bill carefully balances our constitutional rights to privacy and the First Amendment rights of a free press. Without it, the safety of the health professionals who ensure a woman’s right to abortion is in jeopardy.

For 50 years, it’s been a crime in California to tape a private conversation without all participants’ consent. The law was passed to protect our constitutional right to privacy – the right to control who could hear confidential communications. The law has withstood multiple challenges by investigative journalists because, as the courts said, the media must obey the law like everyone else.

AB 1671 does not change existing law; it remains illegal to record, or help someone record, a private conversation without consent. The bill simply makes it an additional crime to distribute an illegal recording of a private conversation with a health care provider by the person who did the illegal recording or the person who intentionally assisted in the recording. AB 1671 updates current law for the 21st century. The internet and its ability to transmit information to millions of people instantaneously magnifies the impact of anything illegal.

Last year Planned Parenthood was the subject of a malicious smear campaign by a radical anti-abortion front group that illegally taped private conversations of doctors and other health center staff members, spliced them together to fabricate short videos and posted them on the internet. Their goal: defund Planned Parenthood and shut our doors.

They didn’t succeed, but their actions resulted in a 900 percent increase in threats and violence against us and our health care providers. One of our doctors now hides behind her refrigerator when she cooks, afraid that someone, incited by those videos, will shoot her through her kitchen window. Some doctors received death threats, required round-the-clock security and had to sell their homes. A Planned Parenthood health center in Colorado was attacked and three people were killed.

The fear is real, the threats are real. No one, simply because they provide constitutionally protected health care, should live in fear.

Based on these videos, many states outside of California sought to defund Planned Parenthood. California must send a clear message: threats and violence will not be tolerated and will be prosecuted. Governor, please sign AB 1671. The women of California are counting on you. Without skilled clinicians, there is no access to abortion in California.

Kathy Kneer is president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California. Contact Kneer at