Why the reproductive rights movement is fighting hard for net neutrality

Imagine that you find yourself unexpectedly pregnant. You go online to research your options. You type in ‘abortion,’ and page after page comes up warning of extreme risks associated with abortion. Cancer, infertility, death. You try to find a clinic near you but for some reason all the results are confusing, well-disguised Crisis Pregnancy Centers – offering ultrasounds and more scare-mongering about the many ways abortion will wreck your body and ruin your life.

Without the protections of net neutrality, it’s not a stretch to imagine a future in which anti-choice groups and corporations pay internet providers to push their medically-inaccurate, ideologically-driven agenda into an internet ‘fast lane.’ Any woman searching for a health clinic near her could be silently manipulated by her search engine away from the information that would actually help her.

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As the Federal Communications Commission considers ending net neutrality, access to online resources are not something we can take for granted. Resources like NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia’s search feature to find a clinic near you could soon be seriously compromised. On-the-ground activists could soon find their communications channels slowed down to a crawl. Corporations could buy control of the information Americans receive online.

The end of net neutrality poses a severe threat to our fight to protect and advance reproductive health and abortion access.

The idea behind net neutrality is that everyone can access the open web. You have the freedom to communicate with whomever you want. You are not restricted from viewing certain websites by slower speeds on select pages. The internet is open to us all, and on it we can interact with the whole world and find comprehensive information on every topic under the sun. A free and open internet allows us to interact, engage, and educate ourselves and others.

The internet is also an extremely important resource for progressive organizations. It’s how many non-profits and progressive groups – including NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia – spread the word about their cause, recruit new members, collect donations, and organize events. It’s how a lot of us first learn of the injustices that make these groups necessary in the first place. The internet can be a powerful equalizer, giving commonly marginalized voices (like those of women, the LGBTQ+, people of color, and so many more) a platform.

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Without net neutrality, these organizations and the voices that speak up about injustice, including NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia, can easily be silenced.

No matter how much this sounds like something out of a dystopian novel, this fight is real and it’s happening right now. The FCC, under the Trump administration, has been in the process of collecting information that will ultimately serve to dismantle the current net neutrality protections we have in place.

There is no reproductive freedom without internet freedom. Sign this petition today to tell the FCC and Congress that net neutrality matters to reproductive freedom.

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