Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Decades-Old U.S. Law, Still on the Books, Could Imprison Anyone Discussing Abortion Online

A provision that's never been enforced since it was passed as part of a larger law in the way-back-times of former President Bill Clinton could land anyone talking online about abortion (in the U.S.) in prison for several years.

Per The New Republic:

[Q]uietly sitting on the books, where it’s been for nearly three decades, is a law that explicitly makes it a crime to discuss abortion online.
TNR's Melissa Gira Grant elaborates on how this came to be, and what it could mean:
The Telecommunications Act of 1996 was the first major attempt by Congress to define what would be lawful on the internet. The act includes a provision that criminalizes discussing abortion, with potential punishment of up to five years in jail, $250,000 in fines, or both.
Obviously, this law is a violation of free speech protections that exist within the First Amendment. But with Republicans all-but-guaranteed to win Congress next year, the potential for a GOP president to win in 2024, and the Supreme Court's 6-3 far-right majority, it's possible that the law could be enforced — particularly if Republicans continue pushing to become a "Christian nationalist" party — and there would be no remedy to go about challenging it (let alone reversing the awful decision that the Court imposed in the first place). 

Any talk of abortion online, and you could find yourself sitting inside a federal prison. That's it. That's the law, potentially, if Republicans gain the power to govern without any checks and balances again.

Public Domain

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