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Center for Medical Progress lead investigator David DaleidenAmerican Life League

SACRAMENTO, October 3, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – California Governor Jerry Brown has signed a bill punishing pro-life investigators who clandestinely record Planned Parenthood – even if the behavior they expose is illegal.

Now, anyone who records “confidential communication with a health care provider” and publishes the recording in any way, including “web sites and social media,” could be fined $2,500 and sentenced to one year in prison for a first offense, or up to $10,000 for repeat offenses.

On Friday, the governor signed Assembly Bill 1617, introduced by Assemblyman Jimmy Gomez, D-Los Angeles. Recording “confidential” health information violated existing state law, but A.B. 1617 substantially increases the penalties.

Brown, a Democrat, made no comment upon signing the bill, but the abortion industry celebrated his decision.“Gov. Brown sent a clear message to anti-abortion extremists that you cannot break the law in California or you will be held accountable,” said Kathy Kneer, president of Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California.

Pro-life whistleblowers say the law shows how desperate the abortion provider has become to silence its critics.

“The Center for Medical Progress never recorded ‘confidential’ communications, so California's existing recording law and the new distribution provision are simply inapplicable to our work,” said David Daleiden, lead investigator at the Center for Medical Progress.

“It is clear that Planned Parenthood does not want to be held accountable to the public, whose taxpayer money it gladly takes by the hundreds of millions, and will even attack freedom of speech and the freedom of the press in order to maintain its own arbitrary levels of secrecy,” Daleiden said.

Lila Rose of Live Action, where Daleiden got his start, referred to previous investigations that “documented Planned Parenthood employees covering up for sex traffickers, failing to report child sexual abusers, and trafficking in baby body parts. Rather than be more transparent with the public, Planned Parenthood wants to make it a crime for the media to publish evidence that it might be doing something illegal.”

The ACLU and press organizations briefly opposed an earlier version of AB 1617, until legislators clarified that the bill would punish those who record the conversations, not media outlets that broadcast them.

Some lawmakers called that a case of blatant hypocrisy.“When ‘60 Minutes’ uses a hidden camera and discovers a unique story, it’s called outstanding journalism, but when a private citizen does it and unmasks a very, very unpleasant truth, it’s a call for legislation,” said Sen. John Moorlach, R-Costa Mesa.

The bill’s signing came the same day U.S District Judge William Orrick refused to dismiss Planned Parenthood’s case against CMP.

It also came just days after investigators discovered that Attorney General Kamala Harris’ office colluded with Planned Parenthood to write the language of the bill. Beth Parker, chief legal counsel for Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, drafted two versions of AB 1617 in e-mails to then-special counsel Jill Habig.

CMP’s work has sometimes involved abortionists with Planned Parenthood’s California affiliate, one of two that acknowledges it received money in exchange for aborted babies’ organs and tissue. The first undercover Planned Parenthood video, released last July, showed Dr. Deborah Nucatola of Los Angeles discussing the harvesting of human body parts, and the prices charged for them, while eating salad and sipping red wine.

Habig, who is now deputy manager of Harris’ U.S. Senate campaign, did not respond to LifeSiteNews’ request for comment.