Texas Republican Wants ISPs to Block Abortion Websites
Last week, Texas Republican state representative, Steve Toth, introduced a bill that would require internet service providers to block access to “information or material intended to assist or facilitate efforts to obtain an elective abortion or an abortion-inducing drug.” ISPs would be forced to make every “reasonable and technologically feasible effort” to block such websites.
If Toth’s Women and Child Safety Act is passed, ISPs would be required to block a range of websites, including those that provide information about abortion clinics, medication abortion, and emergency contraception. Some websites that would be banned include Aid Access, Plan C Pills, Just the Pill, and several others.
The bill not only targets ISPs but also prohibits individuals in Texas from creating or hosting a website that assists or facilitates a person's effort to obtain an abortion-inducing drug. It aims to establish civil liability for the distribution of abortion-inducing drugs and to extend the law's jurisdiction beyond Texas borders, stating that it applies to the use of an abortion-inducing drug by a resident of the state regardless of where it is used.
However, the bill focuses on distribution rather than holding women who undergo abortions liable.
This is not the first time that Texas lawmakers have attempted to restrict access to abortion online. In 2021, the state passed a law that banned the use of telehealth and the mail to provide medication abortions. This made it harder for women in rural areas to get these services.
Critics of the bill have raised concerns that it would prevent women from accessing critical health information. Issues have also been raised surrounding the unconstitutional restrictions on free speech and freedom to access information that the bill imposes.
The bill is unlikely to become law in its current form, but it is another indication of the ongoing efforts by Republican lawmakers to restrict access to abortion services. The debate over internet censorship and abortion is likely to continue as more states consider similar laws in the coming years.