Assclown Alert: Destroying free speech with Texas State Rep. Steve Toth

One of Texas' most tireless and tiresome culture warriors has filed a bill that would make it illegal to 'provide information on how to obtain an abortion-inducing drug.'

click to enlarge State Rep. Steve Toth delivers a speech at the Alamo while dressed in his best culture warrior duds. - Wikimedia Commons / Jonmallard
Wikimedia Commons / Jonmallard
State Rep. Steve Toth delivers a speech at the Alamo while dressed in his best culture warrior duds.

Assclown Alert is a column of opinion, analysis and snark.

Apparently, in some Texas Republicans' view, it's just not enough to stop people from having abortions — it's also necessary to quash their rights to free speech so they can't even talk about abortions.

State Rep. Steve Toth — one of the Lege's most tireless and tiresome culture warriors — has filed a bill that would prevent the sale of abortion medications including mifepristone and misoprostol. Then for good measure, the proposal would make it illegal to "provide information on how to obtain an abortion-inducing drug." 

The Houston-area Republican's HB 2690 would ban individuals from starting, running, hosting or even registering a domain name for a website that explains how to obtain abortion medication. It specifically mentions sites operated by Aid Access, Hey Jane, Plan C and other organizations that help women buy medication via mail to end their pregnancies. 

However, beyond that, Toth's bill would require internet service providers such as phone and cable companies to "make every reasonable and technologically feasible effort" to block users' access to online information about how to get abortion pills. 

Understandably, Toth's proposal has already drawn harsh criticism from free-speech group the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which warned that it would create "glaring" free speech issues with "dire" outcomes. 

Much like Senate Bill 8 — the controversial law that effectively ended abortion in Texas after the first six weeks of pregnancy — Toth's measure would use civil courts for enforcement. In a move the EFF cautions would stifle free speech, his proposal encourages anyone and everyone to file lawsuits against people who speak about abortion medication — even if they're not directly supplying it. 

"The bill is carefully designed to scare people into silence," the EFF writes. "First, HB 2690 encourages individuals to sue people or organizations that violate the proposed law. An 'interactive computer service' can also be sued if it 'allows residents of [Texas] to access information or material that assists or facilitates efforts to obtain elective abortions or abortion-inducing drugs.'"

Of course, Toth has repeatedly shown he doesn't give a shit about free speech so long as he's able to file bills that score points with the most extreme fringe of the GOP base.

He recently made headlines with a separate proposal that would let pretty much anyone with a pulse sue any person who hosts a drag show or performs in drag where a child is in attendance. And remember that bill from the 2021 session that by banned teachers from making any mention of Critical Race Theory? Toth wrote the House version.

In other words: this assclown has no concern for the First Amendment. We can only hope other legislators do and stand in the way of his latest dangerous, undemocratic proposal.

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Sanford Nowlin

Sanford Nowlin is editor-in-chief of the San Antonio Current.

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