California AB 1671 criminalizes undercover sting videos

planned parenthood

The “Planned Parenthood” bill in California, AB 1671, would criminalize showing illegally obtained video footage, including by third-party sources, journalists pursuing a legitimate story, and anyone else. This overreaching bill is in response to the undercover Planned Parenthood videos about fetal research and abortion, which got millions of views, caused a spiked in threats against the organization, and forced one doctor to move because of death threats.

What happened to Planned Parenthood was indeed horrible. And Anti-Vaxxers have jumped on this saying the law, if passed, means their movie Vaxxed couldn’t be shown. Yes, I know, who wants to be on the same side as Anti-Vaxxers in a fight?  In this case, lots of people and organizations should be, because the anti-Vaxxers are correct. If AB 1671 passes, their movie couldn’t be shown in California because it has undercover recordings in it.

AB 1671 is so draconically worded that journalists who posted a recording given to them by an anonymous source, not knowing it was illegally recorded, can be prosecuted, as can whistle-blowers.

Plus, the bill only applies to undercover recordings made at health-care providers. If the threat is so horrible, why doesn’t it apply to all such recordings. This reeks of special-interest lobbying, and the bill itself is onerous and if passed, will have a rough time surviving the inevitable lawsuits against it.

The publishers association, which lobbies on behalf of media groups including the Associated Press and the Hearst Corporation, and First Amendment advocates are skeptical of the bill’s language regarding who can be liable for distribution. Journalists who didn’t participate in the illegal recording but were given a copy and simply passed it on to their superiors could be liable under AB 1671.

Media groups say the bill, which is on the verge of clearing the Legislature, could have a “chilling effect” on free speech and set the state up for First Amendment court battles.

The bill would criminalize publishing undercover video footage of “health care providers” and subject third parties, including journalists, to penalties for reporting and distributing the illegally recorded footage.


  1. Maybe you should look at who you’re calling “anti-vaxxers” Most of these people, like myself, were pro-vaccine until their family member was injured by vaccines. This derogatory language does nothing except play into the idea that this group is “the other” and fringe. It also doesn’t reflect well on a journalist when he/she uses this name calling instead of really looking into why so many people are speaking out.

    And Vaxxed is about a whistleblower at the CDC. We should all want to know that our government agencies are giving us accurate information. I made my son’s health care decisions based on CDC recommendations, then found out later that there had been fraud and coverup.

    It’s unfortunate that you used the “anti-vaxxer” bit, because I thought the article was good otherwise and I’m surprised that the media isn’t all over this. Actually, I’m getting less surprised as I realize how much of our “news” is sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry.

    • The scientists who did the original anti-vaxx study said it was flawed, have renounced the study completely, and now say the vaccines do not cause autism. Multiple other studies support this view.

      And as the post said, I support showing the movie even though the premise is junk science.

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