September 13, 2021
It will soon be a crime in California to post an image of any abortion provider, its employees, its volunteer, or its patients online. If you do, you can face a year in prison or a $10,000.00 fine or both. And if liberal courts find that your violation of AB 1356 resulted in bodily injury, you face being fined $50,000.00.
Welcome to the New Social Media Crime, where live-streaming a pro-life rally on social media can get YOU jailed and fined.
Under AB 1356, abortion providers, employees, and patients whose images are made public can now sue you for posting on social media. All they have to allege is that, by posting photos or videos of them online, you intended to incite some third party to hurt them, or your social media post of their image caused them to objectively fear for their personal safety.
Don't be fooled. AB 1356 targets constitutionally protected pro-life speech. Even the ACLU opposed AB 1356 because it is overkill. California already has laws against threats of violence.
AB 1356 violates the First Amendment by penalizing a certain type of speech -- pro-life speech. AB 1356 makes it a crime to photograph or videotape an abortion provider, employee or abortion patient outside an abortion facility from any closer than 100 feet away from the entrance to the facility. That's a football field away.
The First Amendment protects the right to photograph and videotape in public places. People frequently use cell phones to record images both to express their political beliefs as well as for personal protection and to document crimes and to identify criminals and potential witnesses to the crime.
AB 1356 unconstitutionally criminalizes the publication of a George Floyd-style video that identifies anyone in the protected class of pro-abortion individuals. Merely posting an image of any protected person -- without any further identifying information such as name or address -- is enough. AB 1356 provides no exception for personal protection, such as in a George Floyd-video scenario.
In the bizzaro world that AB 1356 will create, YOU risk jail time up to a year and crushing fines for using cell phones to record and post images of an aggressor within the special protected class who assaults peaceful pro-life advocates exercising and filming their constitutionally protected First Amendment activity on a public sidewalk outside an abortion facility. Requiring proof of mental intent to incite a third person or to threaten does not mitigate this violation of First Amendment protected speech.
Once signed, California's new law will impermissibly replace what constitutes speech by equating perception as violence. AB 1356 will chill the exercise of First Amendment rights by weaponizing the content of speech, in this case, a video or photo, as threatening or intimidating merely by publicizing it online.
Photo Credit: Jeffrey Bruno/ Catholic News Agency