So much for the sovereignty of elected government."Women living in countries where abortion is restricted - including Northern Ireland - are using the internet to buy medication enabling them to perform an abortion at home, it emerged today.A medical study found more than one in 10 customers on one of the most well-known websites needed a surgical procedure after taking the medication.Women in more than 70 countries, including Northern Ireland, have used the internet site Women on Web to purchase the drugs for £55 a time. "
The women in NI are obviously committing a prosecutable offence, so have any been prosecuted? And if they are criminals, how are they going to be detected? The same way that China manages its' dissidents?
Of course, this does mean that if women in primitive regimes can get hold of chemical abortions online, they can also get hold of almost any kind of contraception. So there shouldn't really be any need for RU486 and the rest.
The only difference is that contraception is a constant expense, whereas abortion is £55 a time. And while there are always accidental pregnancies, the main problem are the arrogant, punitive administrations which pander to one of the various oppressive theologies or other. Now they can all kiss the arse of any woman with the price of the drugs and access to a computer.
But that's breaking a democratically determined law. So what happens next?
The internet has, in this case, enabled women to ignore the laws of the government elected to make them. So what is the point of McGuinness And Paisley placating the Pope if women can simply go around the barrier of state? If the country women live in says they shall not have abortions, and they contrive to have them, they are breaking the law, and there's nothing the offended legislature can do other than tell Google to block all traffic to sites offering this type of help.
Is this going to happen? Or are backward states which refuse women the freedom of their own bodies going to have to be dragged into the C20th, and realise they are fighting a losing battle against the power of the world wide web. Another triumph for the power of individual global communications. A repeat, in fact, of each technological advance which has wrung slices of liberty from the religious powers of the day.
As for the reports of the risks, the women taking them are perfectly aware of the risks they face in childbirth, and are making their choice between the two. A choice denied them by their governments.
Will this mean that governments are now under more incentive to respond to the new power of their electorate to ignore the commands of the state and follow their own morality? And if so, what sort of society will be created?
Are we beginning to sit in the driver seat with our politicians between the shafts of the cart at last?
‘The Internet may fairly be regarded’, wrote one of the judges involved in the case, ‘as a never-ending worldwide conversation. The Government may not, through the CDA, interrupt that conversation. As the most participatory form of mass speech yet developed, the Internet deserves the highest protection from governmental intrusion’.
The Architecture of Freedom -- and of its enemies John Naughton