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Verizon Blocks 'Controversial' Abortion Messages

Verizon Wireless has rejected a request from Naral Pro-Choice America to use Verizon's mobile network for an opt-in text-message program. The other leading wireless carriers have accepted the program, which allows people to sign up for text messages from Naral by sending a message to a five-digit number known as a short code.

Verizon says it has the right to block "controversial or unsavory" text messages. In turning down the program, Verizon, one of the nation's two largest wireless carriers, told Naral that it "does not accept issue-oriented (abortion, war, etc.) programs -- only basic, general politician-related campaigns (Mitt Romney, Hillary Clinton, etc.)."

Text messaging is a growing political tool in the United States and a dominant one abroad, and such sign-up programs are used by many political candidates and advocacy groups to send updates to supporters. Legal experts said private companies like Verizon probably have the legal right to decide which messages to carry. The laws that forbid common carriers from interfering with voice transmissions on ordinary phone lines do not apply to text messages.

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