Ben Boychuk’s opinion piece “Liberals will rue video prosecution” (Viewpoints, April 7) is misinformed on many levels.
In his defense of two abortion opponents, whose discredited and maliciously edited videos resulted in multiple political witch-hunts and more than a dozen investigations – every one of which exonerated Planned Parenthood – Boychuk calls into question the right to privacy.
The right of privacy is a constitutional right in California. The law prohibiting taping of private conversations without consent was enacted 50 years ago. David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt broke the law not once but 14 times. Anyone who breaks the law in California should be held accountable.
These political operatives are not journalists, “activist” or otherwise. Eighteen journalism scholars and journalists, including the former dean at UC Berkeley and the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, have said “dubbing the activities of (these) individuals as ‘journalism’ would risk undermining the credibility of real journalists and the important role they perform in our democratic society.”
Recently, in another case relating to the illegal tapes, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said, in rejecting this defense: “The First Amendment is not a license to trespass, to steal, or to intrude by electronic means into the precincts of another’s home or office.” California courts similarly have said that a news station’s motive of gathering news and free speech rights does not create a defense to California’s anti-taping law.
While the tapes have shown no wrongdoing by Planned Parenthood, their release has had other terrible consequences. Immediately following the release, Planned Parenthood experienced a ninefold increase in threats of violence against our providers and health centers. Moreover, real medical research – research looking to cure cancer, Alzheimer’s and other devastating diseases – has been stymied by the actions of radicals whose only goal is to ban abortion and shut down Planned Parenthood (an organization that nearly 75 percent of the American public supports).
We will not be deterred by these illegal activities, nor by political radicals whose only goal is to prevent us from providing much needed health care to millions of women and men.
Kathy Kneer is the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.