By Cheryl Sullenger
Sacramento, CA – A public records request made by Operation Rescue has yielded e-mails and other documents that show a close working relationship between Planned Parenthood and the California Attorney General’s office, especially when it comes to countering pro-life efforts.
Planned Parenthood attorneys often sought meetings and conference calls with members of the Attorney General’s Office to discuss a number of issues, including the “Video Tape Law,” HB 1671, which created greater penalties for making recordings such as those produced by CMP journalists David Daleiden and Susan Sandra Merritt.
“Planned Parenthood essentially wrote the language that criminalized Daleiden and Merritt’s recordings more than a year after they were made,” said Operation Rescue President Troy Newman, who also served as a founding member of the CMP. To clarify, if the recordings had been made after January 1, 2017, they could have been charged under Planned Parenthood’s new, tougher law.
“Planned Parenthood wanted to punish the CMP for exposing their appalling and illegal sale of aborted baby tissue and organs, so they concocted a law that made [future] recordings illegal. [Even so,] David and Sandra’s criminal charges are the result of the State of California aiding and abetting Planned Parenthood’s vendetta against those who blew the whistle on their ghoulish conduct.”
In fact, a draft of amendments to an existing recording law was submitted on March 8, 2016, by Beth Parker, Chief Legal Counsel to Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California to Jill Habig, who then served as Special Counsel to Attorney General Kamala Harris.
Planned Parenthood’s suggested amendments made it a crime to secretly record health care providers and mandated that anyone who “aids, agrees with, employs, or conspires with any person or persons to unlawfully do, permit, or cause to be done” surreptitious recordings would face fines of $2,500 per occurrence and imprisonment not exceeding one year, if convicted.
The following day, March 9, 2016, Planned Parenthood’s Parker visited Habig’s office to discuss the draft amendments, including any potential obstacles to the law.
On March 16, just five days later, Parker submitted a rewrite of the bill that showed slight edits in the original draft. For example, “agrees with” was stricken from the language that discussed criminal culpability for those who conspired in making secret recordings.
While the final text of the legislation was fine-tuned over the following weeks, it included all the points that Planned Parenthood had requested. The newly edited law was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on September 30, 2016, after last-minute language was inserted to specifically exclude news organizations, which had complained about the bill. The law went into effect on January 1, 2017.
Daleiden and Merritt were not charged with violations of the new Planned Parenthood-drafted provisions on March 28, 2017, by Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who succeeded Kamala Harris after she left to pursue a U.S. Senate seat. The recordings that supposedly violated the law were made in 2014-2015. The majority of the recordings were released in 2015.
However, the older version of the law that Daleiden and Merritt were charged under allowed for either misdemeanor or felony charges. The charges against the pro-life journalists were bumped up to felony counts, no doubt at Planned Parenthood’s request.
Earlier this year – based in part on the CMP recordings – investigative panels in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives referred Planned Parenthood Federation of America and five California affiliates to the U.S. Department of Justice for further criminal investigation and prosecution for illegally profiting from the sale of aborted baby remains.
“California has opted to protect Planned Parenthood while making up a new law under which they could charge pro-lifers. It is important to emphasize that David and Sandra’s recording were legal when they were made and released. We believe the recordings were always in compliance with the law,” said Newman.
But the cozy relationship between the California Attorney General’s office and Planned Parenthood was not just confined to the “Video Tape Law.”
There was also a back-and-forth exchange of e-mails originating from Harris’s Special Counsel, Jill Habig, who was seeking a zip code sort for the number of out-of-state patients seeking reproductive services in California.
The purpose of the data was to help fine-tune media talking points in opposition to the Texas HB 2 law that provided support Habig’s assumption that pro-life legislation in other states was impacting California by driving women there for abortions. She was especially interested in any Texas women coming to California for abortions they could not get in Texas due to Texas’ HB 2 abortion law that was being challenged at the U.S. Supreme Court.
“If it’s not too difficult, I’m thinking about using it for press purposes when we talk to reporters about the [Whole Women’s Health v. Hellerstedt] case this week and then later when the decision comes down,” Habig wrote to Planned Parenthood’s Beth Parker on March 3, 2016. “We got a couple of reporter questions that seemed to indicate they had assumed that the ruling wouldn’t have any effect of CA because we’re pro-choice, so I’ve been thinking about ways to challenge that assumption beyond just saying that pro-choice leadership isn’t guaranteed forever.”
Zip code data provided by Planned Parenthood’s Beth Parker did not support Habig’s flawed assumption, showing only three women seeking services in 2015 at one unidentified California Planned Parenthood affiliate, in contrast to four Texas women seeking services there in 2012.
Forced Abortion Referrals
In another case, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California considered filing an amicus brief in NIFLA v. Harris, a 2015 case before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that concerned speech at pro-life pregnancy help centers.
NIFLA, (National Institute of Family Life Advocates) is a national organization that provides legal counsel, education, and training to pro-life pregnancy help centers. NIFLA challenged California “Fact Act,” which unconstitutionally forces pro-life medical clinics to refer for abortions.
A conference call, attended on February 10, 2016, by seven heavy hitters in the Attorney General’s Office, the ACLU, and Planned Parenthood, concluded that Planned Parenthood’s amicus brief in support of the “Fact Act” would be welcomed.
Repeat of Houston Corruption?
David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt were also criminally charged for making secret recordings at Planned Parenthood in Houston, Texas, by a grand jury under the direction of Harris County Attorney General Devon Anderson. It was later discovered that Anderson’s office had colluded with Planned Parenthood to flip the focus of the grand jury away from Planned Parenthood and onto the CMP journalists. Once that collusion was uncovered, Anderson was forced to drop all charges. In part, due to the scandal the collusion generated, Anderson lost her bid for re-election last fall.
“I believe we are seeing a repeat of the same kind of corruption that led to the false charges in Texas. Planned Parenthood wields a huge amount of political support in California, but the Attorney General’s office should be unbiased when it comes to enforcing the law. Instead we see California’s Top Cop actively protecting crimes committed by Planned Parenthood while allowing Planned Parenthood to manufacture a law to punish pro-life supporters,” said Newman. “That is the definition of corruption.”
Read the full 223 page document packet received by Operation Rescue.