A Texas Republican lawmaker has introduced a bill that would compel internet providers in the state to block websites that sell or provide information on how to obtain abortion pills.
The Women and Child Safety Act, which was introduced late last week, would require that websites such as Plan C and Aid Access be cut off. It would also allow individuals to bring civil lawsuits against the people who maintain such sites. Abortion funds and their staffers could face criminal penalties for helping someone get an abortion even if they travel out of state, as could individuals who manufacture and distribute abortion pills in Texas or who provide information on how to get the drugs.
Washington Post reporter Caroline Kitchener noted that this bill appears to be the first in the United States to go after online abortion pill providers, which are considered a crucial resource in maintaining widespread access to safe abortions.
Since Roe v. Wade was overturned, Texas has banned abortion after six weeks, before many people know they are pregnant. There are no exceptions for rape or incest, and only a few to save the life of the pregnant person. Individuals are also allowed to sue anyone who provides abortion care or helps someone get an abortion, in what’s known as the state’s chilling vigilante law.
Medication abortions, which consist of taking the two drugs mifepristone and misoprostol, make up more than half of all abortions in the United States, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Taking away access to the pills would have a severe negative impact on people’s health and ability to get care.
Texas has been a front-runner in cracking down on abortion rights and access, even before the nationwide right to the procedure was rolled back. The increasingly restrictive laws run counter to what most state residents actually want too: A study by the Public Religion Research Institute found that 57 percent of Texans think abortion should be legal in all or most cases.
It’s deeply ironic that Texas’s latest bill is called the Women and Child Safety Act, considering that decreasing abortion access is actually detrimental to people’s health. This and other bills being introduced in state legislatures will only serve to hurt the people they claim to want to protect.
Georgia, Kentucky, and Alabama are all considering bills that would classify abortion as homicide, while South Carolina representatives introduced a bill that would make abortion punishable by the death penalty.