These are forced birth extremists not satisfied with closing abortion clinics. They also want to scrub accurate information on abortion access from the internet. In a post-Roe world, defend online tale whether abortion – and the ability of abortion advocates and providers to raise money and organize online – is a matter of life or death. Democrats who have erroneously attacked section 230 of the Communications Decency Act must wake up now. If they do not start listening to warnings from human rights experts, sex workersLGBTQ + people, and reproductive rights groups, Democrats could help right-wing zealots achieve their goal: mass censorship of online abortion content.
Since the Supreme Court overthrew Roe on June 24, reproductive justice groups have been at the forefront fighting back– on earth, in court and online. Abortion boxes across the country have seen one massive influx of donations through crowdfunding platforms. Ad hoc groups have jumped up in places like Reddit and Facebook, where people share resources and facilitate housing and travel for those in need. But all this is fragile.
Texas has already enacted legislation, known as SB 8, which allows any person to sue a person or institution to facilitate access to abortion treatment. It includes sharing information online about managing the abortion process, purchasing an abortion pill, or finding a clinic that offers abortions. The National Rights Committee has published one model state law who criminalize giving or coughing information or help on how to get a medical abortion. It specifically states that anti-election laws must be written to prevent citizens from seeking abortions in states where it is legal to do so. This law is likely to be enacted in several states.
Section 230 is the latest line of defense that holds reproductive health care, information and fundraising online. Pursuant to Section 230, Internet platforms that host and moderate user-generated content may generally not be sued for such content. § 230 is not absolute. It does not grant immunity if the platform develops or creates the content, nor does it grant immunity to the enforcement of federal criminal law. But it is crucial that it protects against criminal liability from state laws.
This means that as Section 230 exists today, a lawsuit from an anti-abortion group regarding reproductive health care or a criminal case initiated by a public prosecutor for forced birth would be quickly dismissed. If Section 230 is weakened, online platforms like GoFundMe and Twitter, web hosting services and payment processors like PayPal and Venmo will face a disabling and costly onslaught of state law enforcement actions and civil lawsuits claiming to violate state laws. Even if these lawsuits ultimately fail, without Section 230 as a defense to get them rejected, they will quickly become hugely expensive, even for the major platforms.
Coercive birth extremists are prosecuted, have good resources and are ideologically motivated. Technology companies are interested in making money. Instead of spending tens of thousands of millions fighting in court, many online platforms will instead “race to the bottom” and abide by the most restrictive state laws. They want to change their own rules for what they allow and massively restrict access to information on abortion. As a result, countless groups, sites, online communities, non-profit organizations, and means of access to healthcare could be shut down and removed from the Internet – from r / TanteNetværk to the donation opportunities and teaching content on Planned Parenthood’s website. We are going to live in a country where lawmakers in Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas can lay down the rules for online speech throughout the country.