The First Amendment and Online Access to Information About Abortion: The Constitutional and Technological Problems with Censorship
To what extent could an abortion-restrictive state impede access to online information about abortion? After Dobbs, this question is no longer theoretical. This essay engages with this issue from both a legal and technological perspective, analyzing First Amendment jurisprudence as well as the technological implications of state-level online censorship. It concludes that the weight of Supreme Court precedent indicates that state attempts to censor information regarding out-of-state abortion services would violate the First Amendment. That said, the essay also recognizes that as Dobbs itself upended precedent, it is unclear what Supreme Court would do when ruling on questions regarding the extent of state power to limit access to information in this domain. The essay also considers the technological implications of state efforts to censor online access to information about abortion, concluding that these efforts would be mostly, though not completely, unsuccessful.