Planned Parenthood Law Criticized As Major Rollback on Free Speech and Press Freedoms

200px-Logo_plannedparenthoodCalifornia flagWe have often discussed how free speech is rapidly being curtailed on college campuses in the name of fighting intolerance and ill-defined “microaggressions.” California lawmakers are showing the same dismissive attitude in legislation that is a response to the recent scandal over secretly taped statements by Planned Parenthood officials. The videotapes by activists caused a national backlash against Planned Parenthood so liberal politicians are moving to stamp out future “gotcha” films by sharply curtailing free speech and press freedoms. Democratic state Sen. Hannah-Beth Jackson, Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, and other Democrats dismissed vehement objections from the ACLU, civil liberties, and press freedom groups. I understand the objections to the videotape of Planned Parenthood and the alleged unfairness in editing. However, the solution is not to further criminalize this area of free speech and press freedoms.

The bill that is now going to Governor Jerry Brown’s desk would create new penalties for distributing secret recordings of discussions with health providers. This is all because Planned Parenthood officials were caught discussing the purchase of aborted fetal body parts. There was no private patient information disclosed. It was simply politically embarrassing for Planned Parenthood and their supporters. The result is that the first amendment has to be curtailed to guarantee greater protections for Planned Parenthood and other organizations.

What is amazing is that recording and distributing a “confidential communication” without consent already is a crime under California law. However, the new bill add a specific provision for recording a conversation with a health care provider — a bill supported by Planned Parenthood which says that the taping of the statements of its officials has caused it ongoing criticism and threats. Yet, there was nothing that would be seen as particularly private in Planned Parenthood officials discussing the availability of body parts for sale or research. It would give Planned Parenthood and other organizations in its field a special protection. Beth Parker, chief legal counsel for Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California blames the Internet and “the tremendous wildfire nature” of news today for the need to curtail such efforts. That is obviously popular with supporters of Planned Parenthood and clearly the majority of legislators in California could not care less about the first amendment and equal protection implications. The bill was passed almost entirely with Democratic support.

The Democrats pushed through the bill despite the opposition of such iconic and respected groups as the American Civil Liberties Union. Journalistic groups have also risen up in opposition, saying that the bill would curtail press freedom. None of that matters. Planned Parenthood was embarrassed so the first amendment must pay.

The bill is the latest example of how the first amendment freedoms are increasingly under attack from the left, which historically fought for free speech and press freedoms as the virtual touchstone of their movement. Now, rather than the solution for intolerance and corruption, it is viewed as the danger itself by many on the left.

The current bill was only modified at the very last minute to include an exception for media, but it is still an unneeded and potentially dangerous measure. What defines a media story in today’s world of blogs and websites is ambiguous and the purpose of the law is clearly meant to chill or intimidate public interest groups in seeking expose what they view of corrupt or immoral or illegal practices. With the existing law, there is no need for this measure, which appears entirely based on a type of fit of distemper over the political embarrassment caused by the Planned Parenthood debacle.

Liberals seen to have developed a taste of speech regulation and criminalization on our campuses and in our state houses. That is not to say that there are not many Republicans with the same disdain for civil liberties and politicians as a whole have never been reliable allies to constitutional rights. However, the shift of the left away from first amendment protections is being so chilling as to be perfectly glacial in recent years.

72 thoughts on “Planned Parenthood Law Criticized As Major Rollback on Free Speech and Press Freedoms”

  1. Not the government censoring, but just as stupid:

    ” Dear Mark Zuckerberg.

    I follow you on Facebook, but you don’t know me. I am editor-in-chief of the Norwegian daily newspaper Aftenposten. I am writing this letter to inform you that I shall not comply with your requirement to remove a documentary photography from the Vietnam war made by Nick Ut.

    Tom then rendered Kim Phuc’s criticism against Facebook for banning her picture. Facebook reacted by excluding Tom and prevented him from posting a new entry.

    Listen, Mark, this is serious. First you create rules that don’t distinguish between child pornography and famous war photographs. Then you practice these rules without allowing space for good judgement. Finally you even censor criticism against and a discussion about the decision – and you punish the person who dares to voice criticism.”

  2. Here’s my score:

    Economic Left/Right: 1.38
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -4.0

  3. Ordinarily I would agree with Prof Turley on this, but his lie or ignorance of the FACT that PP did NOT offer any body parts for sale shows the real concern with such propaganda clips and editing. There are limits to any liberty, and such egregious falsifications test that. Then we have the fact that the right wing has outlawed videos of animal meat raising with no protest from him that I am aware of. So when I see some balance in this reporting or protesting, then I will join the bandwagon. Also, one has to wonder just what the penalties are. I would expect such a FACT to be rather important in this discussion, and the lack of concrete facts shows a severe lack of concern for the truth. Are the penalties a civil fine,a misdemeanor, a ticket, a felony etc? So before we jump on the law, a reasonable person needs more facts.

    As for this video, I have not seen any mention here about the anti-abortion candidate Carson having used the fetal tissue from PP for his research papers. Of course, he has flexible morals and scruples as all conservative have. They want us to do as they say, not as they do, and ignore their own corruption. The best illustration is the Trump’s own statement about his supporters when he said, he could murder a person on the streets of NYC and his supporters would STILL vote for him. For once, I agree with him since I know he is right. It also shows his contempt for the civic virtue of his own supporters. They have none and no respect for law or the Constitution, despite their fervor only for parts of it. Talk about robots and slavish followers!

  4. Steve, Clintonista’s just follow orders. They are ordered to vote for Hillary. What they think is irrelevant.

  5. Wonderful isn’t it? That HRC did a press conference today after 250+ days. Thank you Donald Trump for flushing her off her sick bed. I can’t wait until she is defeated. til the general (s)election people! I hope you will all join me in defeating HRC.

    Vote for Jill Stein Or Donald Trump.

    The Hildebeest MUST not enter the White House.

  6. To clarify, Planned Parenthood never has sold fetal tissue. There are some expenses involved in the shipment of such and Planned Parenthood has to be reimbursed for such. That is necessary and legal. I gather sales of such are not.

    Surely a law professor should be able to write more accurately than what is above.

  7. phillyT, you were a Che tee, don’t you?! 🙂 I cannot believe you’re voting for Clinton!

    Take a look at the link to compare yourself to the UK parties. You’re nearly aligned with the Greens!

    1. I am/was a total Bernie supporter. I would be supporting Jill Stein if A.) she weren’t such a flake, and B.) Donald Trump wasn’t running. Everything that Hillary has been accused of, Trump has actually done. The man is a failure, a liar, a serial adulterer, a fraud, a rapist, and has clearly broken multiple laws. I think he would be a worse president than George W., and honestly I didn’t think that was possible. He brings out the very worst in people, has no temperament for the job whatsoever, and should never ever ever hold public office. He should go back to cheating his subcontractors and running another dozen businesses into the ground, bailing out at the last minute and leaving others to clean up the mess, as he always has.

      I’ve said it a dozen times, I do not like Hillary Clinton, I think she exercises poor judgement on too many occasions. But never Trump. No l’il Hitler for me.

      1. PhillyT,
        Then why not write in ‘No confidence’ or ‘None of the above’?

        I think there is a majority of people on both sides of the spectrum that do not like any candidate and want this whole mess to start over with a fresh batch of candidates who are not bought or rigging the system (I think Trump is helping Hillary).

        Tulsi Gabbard and Rand Paul would be balanced left/right/libertarian or maybe Trey Gowdy and Elizabeth Warren?

        1. Because Donald Trump.
          His advisors are bailing out en masse.
          The last group to quit before this said he was less informed than Sarah Palin. Let that sink in for a minute. Sarah. Palin.
          A record number of Republican office-holders have come out against him. And NOT because he’s some kind of anti-establishment rebel, but because he is a professions know-nothing without the first clue how to lead this country.
          He breached security protocols within minutes of his first briefing.
          He is dangerous. Really dangerous. And if you don’t see that you are being willfully blind.

  8. Okay, guys. Because we’ve brought up the political compass, where do each of you stand politically?

    Take the test:

    I’m in the left/lower quadrant, further left/libertarian than Ghandi and have been ever since I first took this test nearly a decade ago:

    Economic Left/Right: -6.5
    Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.56

    1. Steve,
      This was a very difficult test. On quite a few statements I wanted a sliding scale because I wanted to answer both Agree and Disagree simultaneously.

      Therefore, I think I continue to hover around Center/Libertarian. I have taken this test several times and have always been libertarian, but where I am in the grids moves around a little.

      Tonight, here is my score:
      Economic Left/Right: -1.63
      Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -2.77

      1. Prarie Rose: The test makes you choose between the lesser of two evils. Remember, in the general election, you’re not forced to do that. 🙂 There’s a third choice, and her name is Jill Stein! She’s not money up to her ears; she’s balls to the walls.

        Besides, your being in the lower left quadrant makes you a liberal as we in the US know it, although we usually tend to limit that notion to a sliding scale along one axis.

        I’ve taken that test perhaps 7 or 8 times in the past 10 years or so, and I’ve consistently been in the lower left quadrant, even though the exact location varies a bit.

        1. I was mistaken about having taken this quiz before. I got it mixed up with the Nolan Chart survey which includes statist and centrist areas.

          On that survey, I have always been close to centrist libertarian, leaning slightly right. So, paired with your quiz, I apparently balance out as a centrists libertarian, leaning right on some topics and left on other topics. A fiddler on the roof?

          Thanks for sharing your quiz!

          1. Thanks for the Nolan Chart. I’m a centrist according to it, my star on the upper-middle portion of the line between liberal and centrist.

            Difficult choices as I noticed some of them had something I liked along with something I didn’t, all wrapped up into a single choice.

  9. Olly and Squeeky

    You are confusing We with the Easter Bunny or Santa Claus. These rights manifested themselves around 1776, from a group of people now referred to as the founding fathers, who designed them, being the society of the time. They formed a country, government, and ideals. These ‘rights’ were given through a process and can be taken away through irresponsible application. The ‘chicken and egg’ argument is self serving and fails to address the essence of the issue. We the people gave the individual the rights and the individual is responsible to we the people regarding the application of these rights. The right to bear arms when taken to the extreme by an individual is taken away by we the people and sometimes the idiot is jailed or shot.

    Your arguments sound somewhat like those of the religious fanatics that are causing so much trouble these days. The first and key word is responsibility.

    1. @IsaacB

      What are you trying to say, that people had no rights before the Founding Fathers set up a country which recognized those rights???

      That sounds a little Heisenbergy to me. Particularly when our Declaration comes right out and says we were endowed with those rights by virtue of being human beings.

      Whatever, but I don’t want to hear you complain when a government revokes your rights. After all, they ain’t yours!

      Squeeky Fromm
      Girl Reporter

  10. Turley is a liberal like network news is liberal. In other words, not at all true, but something right wingers like to say to keep trying to slide the line farther to their side. All the networks are owned by corporations, and while I am not saying the good professor is owned by anyone, because I don’t think he is, he is clearly NOT a liberal any more.

    Please count up the number of posts about Donald Trump’s failed businesses, his shady bankruptcies, the number of people he’s screwed, the more-tan-a-thousand lawsuits he’s been party to, and the clearly illegal campaign contributions he’s made, and post the tally in a comment.

    I’m pretty sure it’s zero. Damn liberals.

  11. This is definitely the new fascism.

    There were no HIPPA violations. We already have HIPPA laws in place to protect patient confidentiality.

    No, this law would prevent someone from recording a doctor, say, dealing drugs out of his car to junkies. Why do health care providers receive more “protection” than any other profession, in cases where HIPPA is explicitly not involved?

    Would this also come into play if someone recorded road rage, and it turned out the person was a health care provider?

  12. @Steve @Jerry

    Thanks SO much for posting those videos. So much going on it’s hard for any one person to keep track.

  13. Steve, JT calls himself a liberal libertarian. As Jill just correctly points out, he is as intellectually honest as they come and calls out pols of all stripes. I believe that is what has attracted you, Jill, and myself here. I agree the 1st Amendment should not be political. But, there are too many attacks on the left phalanx to not see the primary assault is from liberals. I do chuckle @ the usual suspects jumping up and down about the animal abuse videos. For every right assault on free speech, there are hundreds from the left. JT is good @ chronicling them.

    In my youth, many of the attacks on free speech were from the right. The 1960’s saw liberals standing up for free speech. They took over the Education Industry and turned fascist. Human nature I guess.

  14. JT said several times (before you were here) that he is a fiscal conservative and social libertarian.

    If you go back and look at his criticism of Bush, it’s just as harsh as anything you see on Obama or Clinton. He has been consistent in that criticism, no matter what the party in power may be.

  15. Turley is an honest liberal who sees the assault on free speech in this country coming from the left, his peeps. Kudos to the ACLU. They are sometimes AWOL when defending speech of right wingers. They were never AWOL back in the 60’s/70’s[Nazi’s marching in Skokie for one] but sometimes do a SGT. Schultz. They stepped up on this one.

    1. Nick, if I had to guess, Prof. Turley is center right. Although that’s left of Hillary Clinton, it ain’t liberal. I think we can agree that First Amendment rights aren’t politically-oriented one way or the other until somebody needs campaign contributions, or his or her name on a building, or use of somebody else’s jet.

  16. I Don t totally agree with Colin Kapernik, but I do believe in his 1st ammendment rights. Just keeping this short and to the point.

      1. Nick, maybe. So, if it’s just the Left assaulting the First Amendment, why is Donald Trump stumping that he’ll shut off all Muslim immigration and so much of the Tea Party has followed him? They’re not lefties. Far from it. And you won’t find many lefties on board.

        An anomaly?

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