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Bill protecting doctors, health providers from violence and harassment moves to Governor

September 1, 2016 | Abortion, Clinic Safety, Legislation Watch
AB 1671

Contact: Ana Sandoval, PPAC Communications, 916.712.6239 or 916.446.5247 x115

SACRAMENTO – The California Legislature took a bold move Wednesday night to protect the privacy and safety of doctors and other health care providers by passing AB 1671 (Gomez). The bill makes it a crime to disclose or distribute confidential electronic communications of health care providers that were recorded illegally without all parties’ consent.

“If we’re going to protect the right to abortion, we must protect the privacy and safety of medical providers,” said Kathy Kneer, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California. “We worked hard to craft a bill that balances the rights of privacy and the rights of free speech.”

This bill, which will now move to the Governor’s desk, is necessary to deter the illegal activities of anti-abortion extremists who use illegal tactics to violate the privacy of reproductive health providers. Last year, Planned Parenthood was the subject of a malicious smear campaign by leaders of an anti-abortion front group who illegally taped the private conversations of doctors and other Planned Parenthood staff. They maliciously edited the tapes and posted them on the internet to spread lies about Planned Parenthood. Their goal was to restrict abortion access and to prevent Planned Parenthood from providing reproductive and preventive health care to millions of women and men.

Currently it is illegal in California to record or tape private conversations without all parties’ consent. But that law was enacted before the internet and before you could post videos at the touch of a button. As Planned Parenthood learned so painfully last summer, it is the disclosure, not the taping, that causes the greatest harm.

Since these illegal tapes were posted on the internet, Planned Parenthood health centers have seen a 900 percent increase in threats and violence, culminating in the shooting at a Colorado health center killing three and injuring nine. Doctors who appeared in the videos were targeted for harassment, requiring round-the-clock security. Some had to sell their homes.

Similar laws protecting reproductive health providers, such as the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) Act, have provided a deterrent to violence against abortion providers. According to a General Accounting Office survey, incidents of violence against clinics fell more than 30 percent in the years since Congress enacted the FACE Act.

“The nation is looking to California and we urge Gov. Brown to sign AB 1671 to prevent the future harassment of abortion providers,” Kneer said. “California must send a clear message to David Daleiden and other anti-abortion extremists that you cannot break the law in California, or you will be prosecuted.”

Next Steps - how you can help

Urge Governor Brown to sign AB 1671 into low - tweet now to raise your voice and show your support!

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Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California (PPAC) is the state public policy office representing California’s seven separately incorporated Planned Parenthood affiliates. Through advocacy and electoral action, PPAC promotes sound public policy in areas of reproductive and preventive health care, family planning and comprehensive sexual health education.

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